Great North Run Million - 2014 - 2015

2014 saw another two significant milestones for the Great North Run – its one millionth finisher would cross the line in South Shields and Great North Run Culture would celebrate its tenth year at the forefront of contemporary arts commissioning in the North of England. In addition to the annual programme a spectacular Opening Ceremony was created which transformed the NewcastleGateshead quayside into the stage for a performance devised by Bradley Hemmings and written by David Almond, narrated by Jill Halfpenny and Tim Healy and featuring live music from Sting, Mark Knopfler, The Unthanks and Chase & Status.

We were tasked with creating an iconic and accessible identity which complemented the existing Great North Run and Culture brands, with flexibility to support a range of promotional campaigns for the various threads of marketing spanning athleticism, artistic endeavour, volunteering opportunities and the annual commissions programme. The Million Medal and campaign art direction positioned every participant since the Run’s inception as being vital to the millionth finish, rather than placing emphasis solely on the one millionth finisher as an individual achievement, reinforced with the strapline ‘One Million Stories. One Great Night.’

In just four months, we rolled the campaign out over adshels, adverts, posters, flyers, volunteer shirts and certificates, motion graphics, limited edition prints and programmes, signage, maps and environmental graphics. We were particularly proud to see the Million Medal translated into the largest ever logo on the side of the Tyne Bridge which acted as a backdrop when the runners passed over the bridge in September.

Online we created a new microsite as part of the existing Culture website, and in doing so a model for how special projects could sit integrally to the annual commissions programme yet maintain their own unique domains, identities and aesthetics, whilst all being driven through the same CMS. We designed and developed Share Your Story, a bespoke system which propagated all uses of the hashtag #gnrmillion across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, scraping images, videos and text and pulling them into a custom user interface on the Million website. It also permitted users to submit their own Million stories which often highlighted personal motivation and their ongoing commitment to training but which couldn’t be told adequately in 140 characters or a single picture. All of this content was then compiled and exported before becoming part of Tal Rosner’s incredible large scale projections on the facade of the Sage Gateshead as part of the Opening Ceremony, cementing participants’ place in the history of the run.

The results of the campaign speak for themselves – from July to October the website had 21,000 unique visits, 74% unique visitors, an 800% increase in mailing list subscription, a 200% increase in Facebook followers, a 200% increase in Twitter followers and a 20,000 tickets sold out for the Opening Ceremony.