Nike uses e-mailed viral video to promote Human Race challenge

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Nike is promoting its annual Human Race series of 10K races, which take place October 24, by calling consumers to run in the races via a viral e-mail campaign with user-generated video.

The races will happen in cities throughout the world. The goal of the campaign, which began in mid-September, is to increase registration for the Nike race. Its call to action is to sign up for the competition, rather than to buy shoes.

Consumers can visit the Nike Web site, or go to What-cha-doin.com to send an e-mail to their friends, urging them to run in the race. The videos are sent from consumer to consumer via e-mail. After the recipient begins to view the video, it calls him or her to run in the race. The content can be personalized by the sender to include the name of the friend, and his or her running abilities and hobbies.

“The idea is to galvanize people to get them out there to the run,” said Jason Harris, president and executive producer at Mekanism, the interactive agency that Nike hired for the effort in July. “It is less about how they are going to sell shoes from this, but more about how are we going to get people to go out and run.”

Users can take videos of themselves at the races and upload them to What-Cha-Doin.com, which was created specifically for the effort. In those regions without officially sanctioned events, Nike is encouraging locals to run anyway.

“When they came to us trying to promote the Human Race, they wanted to come up with a viral idea that was peer-to peer,” Harris said. “Their goal was to make a viral tool the people could use to nudge friends into running the race.”

A Nike representative could not be reached for comment.

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