The competition at this year’s Tough Mudder nationwide events will be even more heated: On Tuesday, a new partnership between the obstacle race fitness brand announced a new partnership with zero calorie energy drink Celsius.
Celsius revealed yesterday it has signed on to be the presenting sponsor for all 2018 Tough Mudder North America Challenge events. The brand’s name and logo will appear at over 100 Tough Mudder events across the United States over the course of this year. The company will also sample its product with athletes and will receive logo placement in Tough Mudder’s multimedia platforms, including Facebook and YouTube, and broadcast television spots on CBS and The CW.
Speaking to BevNET, Vanessa Walker, EVP of marketing and innovation at Celsius, said the company has made a conscious effort to move past its reputation as primarily a calorie-burning beverage — a claim that positioned the brand as a diet product — and has instead begun positioning Celsius as an overall fitness drink. This transition has included the development and launch of Celsius Heat, a highly caffeinated “trainer grade” pre-workout beverage, and the company is now making further moves to meet consumers where they exercise, whether that’s the gym or the Tough Mudder course.
“If we’re going to target a consumer who’s enthusiastic about being fit, who cares about what they’re putting in their body and who work out, then we’re going to target this emerging weekend warrior crowd,” Walker told BevNET. “We’re meeting them at point of sale where they are working out in fitness clubs, and we want to be where they live, work, and play, and they’re playing on the weekends at events like Tough Mudder, which has now become a globally recognized brand.”
The partnership comes as niche fitness brands such as Tough Mudder, Crossfit, and Spartan Race have experienced growth, developing into lifestyle brands that provide beverage companies with opportunities to integrate into burgeoning fitness communities. Inclusive language, referring to consumers as members of “Tough Mudder Nation” or as “Spartans” can also foster a sense of community, which means partner beverage brands must strive to be authentic within them.
According to Walker, the brand loyalty that companies like Tough Mudder accrue through their community building approach to fitness can translate to partner brands like Celsius.
“Showing up at a Tough Mudder and seeing a brand as prominently displayed as Celsius makes me feel, if I’m participating or I’m a member of Tough Mudder Nation, that Tough Mudder is respecting Celsius enough to partner with them, and that Celsius is a good enough brand to be there,” Walker said.
Tough Mudder also has existing partnerships with Guinness and sports drink brand Kill Cliff.
Speaking to BevNET, Tough Mudder CMO Jerome Hiquet said the partnership with Celsius will extend beyond presence at events and the company is committed to integrating Celsius into the Tough Mudder lifestyle.
“We’re not only thinking about the live events, we want to bring the two brands together all along the customer journey,” Hiquet said. “We will be activating the partnership across a 360 degree channel program including grassroots marketing plans around events, content creation featured through partners, and on our social media channels and through fitness or retail activation. We are very excited by the opportunities provided by this global and integrated partnership”
According to Hiquet, Tough Mudder’s transformation into a lifestyle brand has come in part by meeting its consumers at multiple steps of their workout. Tough Mudder events themselves become a challenge for members of the Nation to strive toward, allowing company to further integrate into its consumers lives by offering training programs, gear, and promotions.
“More and more brands are interested to partner with Tough Mudder because we provide a unique environment with over 100 events across North America and more than three million loyal fitness enthusiasts committed to the Tough Mudder lifestyle, who we can engage all along the customer journey,” Hiquet said. “The reach we now have through our database, social media channels and partnerships with key media platforms like CBS, etc. allows us to offer an unique engaging experience with brands through multiple touchpoints, resulting in brand awareness and engagement with millions of customers throughout the year.”
The partnership between Celsius and Tough Mudder is currently limited to just 2018, although Walker said there would be an opportunity to renew the partnership for the future.
Although the future hasn’t been decided on just yet, Walker said she believes Tough Mudder athletes will soon see Celsius as a part of their daily lives.
“If you are getting into a routine where you’re training before your Tough Mudder, and then you have that experience, that fun day that was a life event, a bucket list event that you trained so hard for, Celsius is actually a part of that,” she said. “We have an opportunity. This is way beyond a sampling event. This becomes a brand that becomes integrated into the memory of that day and everything that surrounds that. And if you want to continue to be a member of Tough Mudder Nation you’ve got to gear up with your Celsius before the next one.