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CHICAGO Beer-drinking began early on Saturday, as Women's Health hosted a daylong public event that brought fitness classes, complimentary massages, and at 2 p.m., a Goose-Island-sponsored happy hour to North Avenue Beach. Dubbed “Are You Game?,” the happening “is our signature event platform, and brings the Women's Health brand to life," said Eric Hunter, executive marketing director for the magazine and its Rodale sibling Men's Health. Hunter worked with the magazines' senior special events manager, Karen Mendolia, and special events manager Prudence Purcell to plan Saturday's promotion.
Hunter said the planning process took about six months, though “we sell sponsorships and keep it on our radar all year long.” In exchange for their sponsorship dollars, companies received “the opportunity to reach an influential, active, and passionate group of women in a way that connects with their lifestyles," Hunter said. Accordingly, Saturday's event saw a slew of brand activations peppered throughout areas devoted to activities such as rock-climbing and European bungee jumping (a sport that lets participants strap on harnesses and perform bounces and flips off inflatable bases).
Along with beer samples, sponsor giveaways included suntan lotion bearing Subaru labels, Women's Health magazines, and banana smoothies made with Edy's frozen yogurt. Maybelline provided makeovers in a tented area and sponsored a Cardio Go-Go class led by Cruch Fitness instructors. Oakley invited guests to participate in virtual surfing sessions and to have their photos snapped wearing the company's sunglasses. On a runway jutting down the center of the beach, fashion shows showcased styles from Champion. And staff from Oasis Day Spa doled out complimentary massages in a lakeside tent.
Hunter said that developing the various elements—and ensuring that they formed components of a cohesive event—was a challenge. “Our goal is always to provide a seamless experience for our sponsors,” he said. “This year we had nine event sponsors, two partners, and a beneficiary, so we spent many hours working with them prior to the event to ensure smooth and successful activations for them on site."
To promote the event, Women's Health ran print ads in several publications and developed a custom landing page and online banner ads. Other efforts included street teams, in-gym signage at various Crunch locations, and postcards at retail oulets such as Oakley. The promotional tactics ultimately succeeded in drawing approximately 2,500 guests to North Avenue Beach.