Into the branded wilderness

Into the branded wilderness
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Team B&T is taking on the 2013 Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge. From tomorrow, we’ll be bringing you a live blog from the event, covering the highs and lows of the five-day adventure race, and looking at the inside story on the significant branding and sponsorship around the event.

The Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge is big. It’s physically big, and it’s big business in terms of sponsorship.

This year, it’s the eighth outing for the event – and the third year that sports and entertainment marketing agency Octagon has run the event.

Formula One racing driver Mark Webber appointed Octagon to manage the event at around the same time as he signed with the agency to look after his own marketing. And since Octagon has been on board, the event has grown hugely, especially in terms of corporate support.

Sean Nicholls, president of Octagon in the APAC region, says: “Octagon has been fortunate to have been responsible for the challenge during Mark’s three most successful and prominent years in F1. As such, corporate interest in the challenge has never been higher. The reality is, it’s difficult during an F1 season for brands to be able to access Mark because of heavy team commitments. The challenge provided a very unique window of access and many very prominent brands have taken advantage of that.”

As well as Swisse taking out the naming rights sponsorship, brands including Red Bull, Qantas, Rexona, 2XU, Pure Tasmania, Discover Tasmania, Europcar and Caltex all sponsor the Tasmania challenge. New sponsors for 2013 are Telstra and Hydralyte.

Why do they all jump on board?

Adam Hodge, group commercial director at Octagon (pictured left), explains: “They purchase the right of association with the world’s most premium multi-day fitness event and a unique association with one of Australia’s most prominent and high profile athletes, Mark Webber.”

Another benefit is that brands can demonstrate their products and services in the ultimate proving ground. “Two new sponsors this year are doing exactly that,” says Hodge. “Telstra will use the event to show the superior coverage it offers, even in the most remote of locations, and Hydralyte will be putting their products to the test replacing electrolytes and rehydrating athletes under the most extreme of circumstances.”

And how does the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge (SMWTC) stand out from the growing crowd of adventure races around the world?

Hodge responds: “The explosion of fitness-style events in Australia and around the world have saturated the market in recent years, however the SMWTC is incredibly unique in respect to its format and premium delivery. Being able to put up the world’s largest adventure racing prize purse (total prize money is $30,000) as well as having Mark’s name and involvement, as well as other high-profile sports people competing allows us to differentiate ourselves.”

Team B&T, consisting of B&T features editor Lucy Clark and her racing partner Dom Collie, will be joining a host of other teams to take on the challenge from Wednesday. The race runs over five days, over 350 kilometres, across the western Tasmania wilderness. It will feature kayaking, mountain biking, trekking and running – all self-navigated.

Tune in each day to find out how they fare – and for interviews with other racers and event sponsors. 

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