The Running of the TurkeysSpring is officially here and I love seeing all the runners coming out every day to pound the pavements throughout my neighborhood.  I try to join them as often as I can, and when I do, all I hear is “gobble, gobble!” in my head.

Gobble, gobble?

Yes.  From memories of the Capital One Bank Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot.

Sunshine Avenue was honored to, once again, help provide social media marketing and public relations services to the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas last fall for their Trot – the largest Thanksgiving Day multi-event race in the country.  Starting from humble beginnings 43 years ago, the Trot has grown into the undisputed “Way to Begin Thanksgiving Day” for thousands of locals as well as participants from across the globe.

The YMCA has become a savvy social marketer with the Trot.  With one-third of adults and nearly one-fifth of children and adolescents in the U.S. now considered obese, the fitness industry is growing.  In 2010, more than 14 million people joined the more than 38,000 health clubs in the United States.

With fitness industry growth comes competition.  People switch gyms the way they used to switch long-distance phone service providers – chasing after the cheapest membership offers.  The Trot has become one of the centerpieces of how the Dallas YMCA faces the growing challenge of differentiating itself in a meaningful way so it can continue to serve and bring aboard new members – which in turn helps it deliver even greater positive impact to youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility in the communities it serves.

I’m proud to say that the 2011 Trot was incredibly successful for the Dallas YMCA as a launching pad into tackling its 2012 strategic goals as a cause-driven organization.  A record-breaking 36,820 runners registered for the race and were exposed in a positive way to The Y and it’s many fitness programs including priorities tailored to preventing diabetes, cancer recovery wellness and combating childhood obesity.

For the first time in 2011, a fun promotion was added to the Trot – The Running of the Turkeys – sponsored by the Trot’s title sponsor, Capital One Bank.  This promotion was a successful drive to earn a world record for the largest number of people (661) in one place dressed like turkeys.  What a sight!  And what publicity!  More than 7,000 digital and traditional media placements resulted in more than $5 million dollars worth of advertising value for the YMCA and Capital One Bank before, during and after the Trot. By engaging race participants and bloggers in online promotions and contests, the Y was able to double their Facebook fan base, create greater awareness for the YMCA among younger generations, and help lift onsite event participation to a new record level.  Talk about making an impact!

As a part of the Running of the Turkeys campaign, the YMCA and Capital One Bank also created opportunities to have meaningful interactions with individuals who visited their branches for the chance to get free and official turkey garb and VIP access to hot coffee, a scrumptious warm breakfast and “private” restrooms before the race.  (If you’re a runner that participates in sponsored races, you know access to private restrooms is worth ten times the price of admission!)

Sunshine Avenue looks forward to a very successful year for The Y as it continues differentiating itself as a place that’s far more than a gym – a place that strengthens family and all members of a community in countless ways.  Stay tuned for more great stuff!

The Running of the Turkeys

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