Samsung Electronics, a global sponsor of the 2006 Olympic Torch Relay, sought to find 10 Canadians to carry the Olympic torch in Torino.
The company's Canadian division partnered with APEX Public Relations to develop a national torchbearer search that led them to five cities from Vancouver to Halifax throughout June.
Samsung and APEX defined clear goals for the effort. They wanted the events to link Samsung to the Olympics, generate more coverage for the torch- bearer search than had been attained in previous attempts, and secure Samsung Electronics Canada's effort as one of the most successful Olympic Torch Relay campaigns in the company's global network.
"Torchbearers come from all walks of life," explains APEX SVP Linda Andross. As a result, APEX and Samsung wanted to design a torchbearer search contest that would appeal to audiences of all ages.
What they came up with was a series of adventure races to be held in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax. They believed these races - during which contestants took part in a series of mental and physical challenges - would encourage participation from all age groups. The PR team realized that as an added bonus, the excitement generated around these events also would maximize Samsung's media coverage across Canada.
To create buzz, Samsung sent chatter sheets to drive-time radio personalities in each host city to pique their interest and encourage listeners to enter online. The team also targeted lifestyle, general consumer, and sports media to build excitement.
To enter the races, teams of two had to pen an essay explaining how they embodied the Olympic ideals of tolerance, peace, equality, and fair play.
Ten teams of two were chosen in each city, 50 teams in all, based on the essays. The race sent these teams through a series of five challenges, with no predetermined course to follow. Each team received clues and had to rely on their resourcefulness and knowledge of the city to locate challenge stations before crossing the finish line. The teams that finished first in each city would run in the official Olympic race.
Event workers at all five races, held June 16-21, used Samsung electronics on race day. Staffers assigned to follow competitors were equipped with sports camcorders to document the events, building even more visibility.
Prize packages for all racers included Samsung camcorders as well as MP3 and portable media players. After the competitions, press releases were distributed to media outlets in the five host cities and surrounding areas.
"The execution of all events exceeded our expectations," says Patty Chung, head of corporate marketing for Samsung Electronics Canada. "I felt proud that Samsung Canada could bring this type of event to the Canadian public."
Samsung's contest website had about 2,000 hits and 300 successful entries. With only two weeks to generate interest, Andross was pleased with the number of entry forms completed.
In addition, more than 10 million media impressions have been garnered in key outlets. In fact, The Globe and Mail, Canada's largest daily, published two stories on the events.
"This program has been a labor of love for both myself and my extended team at APEX," says Chung.
The winning teams will travel to Florence, Italy, to join in the Olympic Torch Relay. Key Canadian journalists will accompany the 10 torchbearers, and targeted media relations will communicate their experiences and further promote Samsung Electronics and its sponsorship of the Olympic Torch Relay.
PR team: Samsung Electronics Canada (Mississauga, ON, Canada) and APEX Public Relations (Toronto)
Campaign: Samsung Race for the Torch
Time frame: May 2005 to present