Morrisons looks to push healthy-living credentials with Great North Run tie-up

Morrisons is to become the new sponsor of the Great North Run in a move that it claims is “complementary” to its focus on fresh food.

The supermarket’s deal with Nova – the organisers of the Great Run series – will run for at least 4 years and covers all the events it operates in the UK, as well as future events it is planning to launch. Morrisons takes over from Bupa, which was the sponsor for the past 22 years but announced last year that it would end association with the event in 2015.

Speaking to Marketing Week on a call this morning (9 January), Morrisons’ group marketing and customer director Nick Collard said the sponsorship was “complementary” to its focus on fresh food, which Morrisons believes makes it different from competitors.

It is also keen to tap into the Great North Run’s message around accessibility, healthy living and fitness and mass participation.

“We see ourselves as a value-led grocer with a real focus on fresh food – that is at the heart of healthy living and a healthy lifestyle. Value comes in because this is about mass participation – people only need a pair of trainers to be able to take part. Mass participation and healthy living are strong links to the brand from a customer perspective,” he added.

Morrisons has been focused on communicating its new price position, alongside its fresh food, but Collard said price is not enough to win and that the sponsorship will help it stand out in the increasingly competitive supermarket space.

Marketing plans

Collard wouldn’t be drawn on the value of the deal, but said it offered “good value for money”. Morrisons doesn’t plan to drop its other sponsorships at the moment, with a year still to run on its tie-up with the Great British Takeaway and Britain’s Got Talent.

The sponsorship starts tomorrow (10 January) with the Great Winter Run and International Cross Country in Edinburgh. Collard said Morrisons is still considering how best to promote the tie-up but promised an experiential push, alongside in-store, online and traditional marketing activity.

He also said Morrisons would look at how to integrate the sponsorship with its “Let’s Grow” platform, which aims to educate children on where food comes from and inspire them to grow fruit and vegetables.

Customers and colleagues will be encouraged to sign-up to raise money for Morrisons’ charity partner, Sue Ryder.

The Great North Run series has grown from one event at its launch in 1981 to 12 runs in 8 cities across the country. Brendan Foster, the Olympic medal-winning runner and founder of the Great North Run, said he hoped the tie-up with Morrisons would help it double the number of participants “in the foreseeable future” to 500,000 and encourage more women to run.

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