200 runners, 10k, £30,000
“This is the scariest part of the whole race!” I exclaimed as an interviewer thrust microphones and cameras in my rain-soaked, bright red face 10km later. But this wasn’t just 10km later, this was the completion of a huge fundraising project Dentsu Aegis Network North had proudly taken on to raise money for local homeless charity, Booth Centre.
When I joined the company as a grad ready to take on the role of Media Assistant, I never expected to be calling myself a brand champion just over a year later. Over the past few months I have been working with fellow Dentsu Aegis Network brand champions to encourage as many employees as possible from Carat, Amplifi, Amnet and iProspect to take on The Great Manchester Run and join together in a very ambitious fundraising effort.
The cause? To help fund Booth Centre’s employment support programme which aims to transform people’s lives by providing a route out of the cycle of homelessness by finding employment, training or volunteering opportunities in the community.
The result? We raised over £31,000 including gift aid donations.
And the ingredients? Over 200 runners, 10 kilometres, and a £100 fundraising target per runner. Oh, and selfies with Greg Rutherford!
Here’s a little lowdown of how we managed it…
11 weeks until the run and despite a cool rainy February Team Carat was complete: I’d reeled in our last few sign ups and encouraged each runner to join a team. On the day the winning team was to be totaled by averaging the first 4 (of maximum 8) finishers’ times. The team with the fastest average time won a prize on the day.
By 8th April Carat runners were already meeting their individual £100 fundraising targets and brand fundraising initiatives commenced: Amplifi’s £3,500 pub quiz fundraising feat lead the way, it just goes to show there’s a lot to be said for a very unique selling point: It’s not every day we advertise busty wenches serving beer in Takk!
Competitive spirits rose to the brand fundraising challenge in Carat and iProspect. 3 months later we had baked, brewed and boozed for Booth. Whether running, baking or donating, our office was humming with anticipation around The Great Manchester Run, from whether your guest had a vest, to what a fantastic excuse the fundraising was to have to post on Facebook, to which Canada goose had attacked you whilst running along the canal.
However, it wasn’t until 5 days before to the race that Olympic gold strolled in. You know that jumping ginger guy who showed us Brits how to love the long jump in London a few summers back? Yeah, that’s Greg Rutherford and he came to visit us in our office on Portland Street to offer some much needed inspiration and advice before our big run on the Sunday.
By 11am on 22nd May it was show time. Decked in colourful Dentsu Aegis vests our runners fuelled up on a Google-sponsored array of bananas, cereal bars and Lucozade, pinned on their race numbers on and dashed off for ‘just one more’ loo stop before the run.
The route to the start was as haphazard and jittery as the warm up: The immensity of coordinating a 200-strong army of DAN runners within a morning’s worth of over 35,000 Manchester 10k runners was quite the feat, good job we had those oh-so-media Denstu Aegis Network banners and 6 sheets booked out along the route to guide us!
As we set off running at last the sky soon became overcast to match a rather grey route and I smiled to myself at this being a ‘true Manchester experience’: Indeed 7km in it was in fact lashing it down with rain!
Walking back to the office in the rain after my interview with the guy with the mic, (little had I known when I listened to Greg advise us on dealing with the press I’d be being interviewed at the finish!), I looked about, comforted to be amongst a sea of multi-coloured DAN vests. To see my colleagues, media owners and clients alike all championing our Dentsu Aegis brand like this was a real thrill.
We gathered at Takk after the race with our Booth Centre rep, colleagues, guests, friends and families to trade race stories and announce prizes. iProspect won fastest team and our overall winner sailed in in just 39 minutes! Race times aside, we had raised an incredible amount of money for Booth Centre and a week on it’s still rising! To achieve this all colleagues have worked together: It is this inter-brand connectivity which makes up our Dentsu DNA, propelling us to be able to have such a massive impact on charities through fundraising initiatives like this.
From those first few tentative February jogs along the canal (#allthegearandnoidea is real guys!), to April’s pub quiz, baking on a Media Thursday, meeting Greg Rutherford and running thousands of kilometres between us, The Great Manchester Run will go down as an historic day for DAN kind. Thank you to all of our supporters for their generosity and encouragement along the way.