I went down to Cape Town to do the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. One thing is for sure – Old Mutual won the sponsorship race this year.

So, starting on my journey at OR Tambo I quickly made the connection between Old Mutuals pay-off line, ‘Do great things’, and a range of endurance events they have decided sponsor. The airport had heavy paid for presence of messaging about Old Mutuals sponsorship events and the imagery was all about achieving in the endurance space.

Then upon arrival at Cape Town International airport, once again there was the same extensive advertising. Driving out of the airport and throughout Cape Town the event flags were a plenty along roads. The sign of a rightsholder and destination that understand how to drive home the hype.

Next up was the expo centre at the CTICC, where Old Mutual impressed massively. Their stand was slick. But the best was that it wasn’t about them, it was about ‘you’, the runner, making you like them more. They executed Oculus Rift that saw Bruce Fordyce provide you with advice along different parts of the route (there were four stations) in the 360 virtual reality experience. This was awesome.

Then they had functional value adds that included having your health conditions (blood pressure, blood sugar, cholestoral, BMI) measured as well as providing runners with expert advice. They also created the official pacing wristbands for runners to take part with. For Old Mutual customers – valuable parking vouchers for race day as well as the chance to win a VIP experience in 2016 at the event. And for the supporters? Simple but effective – Old Mutual branded support banners with stationery to fill them in. I saw them all along the route. Supporters spurring on runners with Old Mutual providing them with the platform. Helping their friends and families to do great things. Supporters could also win a GoPro with the supporter selfie competition. Ticks all round.

They also threw in a rhino poaching initiative whereby runners could paint the rhino for charity – all proceeds going to Wildlands Conservation Trust. Nice touch.

Then on race day, besides the (extensive) contractual signage that comes with the event, the brass bands along the way were brought to you by Old Mutual. And boy were they helpful when the pain was setting in!

All-in-all a really pleasant experience that certainly added value to the experience and made a difference.

Product offers are also now linked to participation. Those that finished the Ultra or half marathon under cut-off times get 10% off life cover.

If there’s criticism, I’d say they could have been better with social and PR. Their social media was not exectued (well enough) in line with their activations and I can’t find one story on what they did, which is just letting themselves down.

The strategic fit with what Old Mutual are trying to communicate (investing and pursuvering over time will provide dividends + Do great things) and the execution on the ground were spot on and showed superb focus. And they’ve matched their rights fee with leveraging clout to make the most of their investment. So just like Old Mutual are passionate about helping their customers aheive their lifetime financial goals (According to them), they’re demonstrating how they apply this to endurance goals and showing they back their words up.

On top of this Old Mutual have put together a portfolio of endurance events that will allow them to own the space if they carry on leveraging the way they did in Cape Town. The Comrades, Om Die Dam, JoBerg2c, Soweto Marathon and Sani2c gives them a clever mix of endurance properties.

Kudos to those involved.

I’ll be back and looking forward to it. Thanks Old Mutual, you’ve helped me do something great (in my mind). And that’s what really counts.

Written by Struan Campbell.