Campaign: London Marathon gives marrow donor boost

The Anthony Nolan Trust manages and recruits donors to its bone marrow register, but urgently needed more men to sign up. In 2006 the charity was chosen as the Flora London Marathon Official Charity of the Year.

Campaign Official Charity Flora London Marathon 2006
Client The Anthony Nolan Trust
PR team In-house
Timescale April 2005-April 2006
Budget Undisclosed

To drive national brand awareness of the charity, particularly among men's media. To gain male donors by working with celebrities and people with personal experience of bone marrow transplant. To raise money.

Strategy and Plan
Anthony Nolan's PR team knew that national and regional media would be interested in runners' stories, particularly if these were unusual or if they featured a celebrity.

It recruited runners through Marathon News - the Flora London Marathon website - and (the official website of the run's management company).

It also engaged with running magazines to detail the charity's work and the support it could give runners. Meanwhile, a freelance celebrity consultant was hired to approach and help manage a small number of celebrities.

The press team then chose ten runners as case studies. Stories about the celebrities running - including Match of the Day 2 presenter Adrian Chiles and Footballers' Wives actress Phina Oruche - were also sold in to media. A celebrity runner photoshoot was organised to complement this.

It gave a press pack to all runners, many of whom then sent a press release to local media detailing their reasons for doing the race. Finally, a giant Anthony Nolan superhero suit was constructed, in which CEO Tim Rogers ran the marathon.

The trust press-released the fact that this would go into the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest costume to be worn in a marathon.

Measurement and Evaluation
More than 110 articles about Anthony Nolan and Flora London Marathon appeared in national and local press, such as the News of the World, The Times, and Daily Mirror. A weekly training column by Oruche appeared in the Liverpool Echo, while another celebrity runner, Times journalist David Aaronovitch, mentioned the trust and news about training in his blog on The Times Online.

Other articles appeared in titles such as men's media and Sunday Mail supplement Live Magazine. Radio coverage included BBC London, Scotland and Liverpool.

Further broadcast coverage included London Tonight, BBC Grandstand, ITV News and This Morning.

Anthony Nolan had its largest ever team competing in the race - 470 runners - raising more than £1m. It has already received expressions of interest from around 600 people who want to run the 2007 marathon on Anthony Nolan's behalf. A greater number of men than in previous years have put themselves forward.

Aaronovitch tells PRWeek: ‘The PR team saw an article I'd written about wanting to get fit and asked me to run the marathon for the trust. I incorporated its work in the article I wrote and struck up a good relationship.

‘The team was well organised and obviously able to think laterally. I'll be running the marathon for the trust again next year.'

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