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How Degree’s Marathon Team Proved They’re ‘Not Done Yet’

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Desi Okeke, director of Degree North America discusses the campaign that gave three runners a second chance at completing a marathon, writes LBB’s Ben Conway

How Degree’s Marathon Team Proved They’re ‘Not Done Yet’


The Degree ‘Not Done Yet Marathon Team’ was assembled by the antiperspirant brand to show the world that individuals can overcome hardship, bounce back and achieve their goals through adversity. Led by marathon runner, author, and television personality Tyler Cameron as head trainer, a team of three people who have previously failed marathons - and who have overcome a variety of personal and physical challenges - to compete at and finish the San Francisco marathon this year.

To raise awareness of this challenge, Degree also worked with creative agency BBDO to produce a video content series on the brand’s YouTube channel. These videos follow the three athletes who have conquered everything from post-organ donor surgery recovery to degenerative health conditions, grief and more, just to reach the starting line of the race. 

In addition, Degree has also donated $50,000 to the Achilles International non-profit organisation - a charity that champions the message of this campaign by transforming the lives of people with disabilities through athletic programs and social connection. They predict that this donation alone will help a further 100 people get to the start of a race.

Speaking with LBB’s Ben Conway, Degree’s director of North America, Desi Okeke, discusses how the ‘Not Done Yet Marathon Team’ was formed and - all importantly - how the runners did at the San Francisco Marathon. Read below to see their times and the strategy behind this motivational campaign.



LBB> Where did the initial idea for this campaign come from? What ideas and concepts were you playing with when planning to expand the ‘Not Done Yet’ platform? 


Desi> Degree aims for a world where everyone has the confidence to move more by smashing the barriers that hold them back – including self-doubt. In fact, self-doubt is a key factor that prevents people from finishing marathons. That is why Degree introduced the ‘Not Done Yet Marathon Team’ and gave three inspiring runners a second chance to run the 26.2 miles at the 2022 San Francisco Marathon on July 24.

BBDO then created three films to share the runners' stories and how Degree celebrated them and offered them the opportunity for a second chance.



LBB> How did you find and choose the three runners who had previously failed to complete marathons? What was your reaction to their life stories? 


Desi> When we put the call out for runners who previously did not finish (DNF) we were looking for three main things:

  • Diverse runners who would represent the real world around us.  
  • Runners who had engaging and compelling backgrounds and ‘Not Done Yet’ stories where they didn’t give up when faced with a challenge and pushed through challenges and self-doubt.   
  • Runners who previously did not finish a marathon.

When we started screening applicants, Michael Zampella, Sagirah Ahmed Norris, and Ashley Zirkle stood out as people who not only have overcome so much in life - like a degenerative eye disease, multiple sclerosis, and kidney donation recovery - but who are inspirations to their communities and want to motivate others to not count themselves out.

They really understood and embodied Degree’s mission and were such a great fit for our first ever ‘Not Done Yet Marathon Team’.



LBB> Why did you choose the San Francisco Marathon? Did the race’s organisers get involved at all? 


Desi> We selected the San Francisco Marathon as the setting for our first ‘Not Done Yet Marathon’ due to the attendance size and the ideal time for our marketing efforts. Throughout planning, we were in contact with the marathon organisers who helped keep us informed on race day specifics like sampling, logistics with our three runners and general sponsorship activity.

 


LBB> So the big question… how did the race go for each of the runners? 

 

Desi> They all finished and proved to themselves that they were ‘Not Done Yet’. At the end of the marathon Michael, Sagirah, and Ashley were all so excited to have finished the race, and our team trainer, Tyler Cameron was thrilled for them as well.

Here are their finishing times for reference:   

  • Michael Zampella: 4:16:09 
  • Sagirah Ahmed Norris: 5:37:33
  • Ashley Zirkle: 5:59:27 



LBB> Were you there for the race? If so, what was that experience like of seeing these inspirational runners conquer the marathon? 


Desi> Yes, our team was at the San Francisco Marathon to cheer on our runners and celebrate their accomplishments. It was exhilarating to watch them cross the finish line and accomplish their long-awaited goals.  



LBB> How did you get the professional athletes involved, and how important is the social/influencer aspect of this campaign?  


Desi> Our NIL (name, image, likeness) athletes, para soccer players, and other brand partners supported this campaign through social posts where they shared their ‘Not Done Yet’ stories. They also directed their followers to share personal stories of times they've embodied the ‘Not Done Yet’ mindset in the comments section of the brand partners' posts, helping to fuel the brand’s $50,000 donation to Achilles International.  

From a brand perspective, our strategy on social media is to continue to share the mindset and mission of inspiring the confidence of everyone to move more. We pushed this on platforms like Instagram, by giving our three runners the platform to share their stories and encourage others to be ‘Not Done Yet’.



LBB> What was the hardest challenge you faced on this campaign - and how did you overcome it? 


Desi> We didn’t face any challenges, but instead began to see more opportunities for growth and can’t wait to expand our program in years to come. 

‘Not Done Yet’ stories are ingrained in all the work Degree does. We promote and share all of our brand partners’ ‘Not Done Yet’ Stories -  and will continue to do so to bring awareness to their journeys. We continue to stay in touch with Michael, Sagirah, and Ashley and can’t wait to expand on the ‘Not Done Yet Marathon Team’ next year. 



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Edelman, Tue, 06 Sep 2022 15:37:00 GMT