Is StanChart Marathon's shift to a night race format enough to attract a new crowd?

Standard Chartered Marathon recently announced its shift to a three-day long evening race, after 18 years of positioning it as a day-event. In a statement, run organisers the IRONMAN Group, said the shift was done to grow appeal of the race.

In Singapore, however, there is no shortage of marathons. Be it brands aligning themselves to a healthy living lifestyle, fighting for a cause, or promoting a consumer-facing event, there is a growing number of new marathons in Singapore every year.  While StanChart's move to a night run structure is a welcomed one by regular participants, industry players Marketing spoke to highlighted that there are already established night marathons in Singapore such as OSIM Sundown, CSC Run By the Bay as well as Illumi Fest Run held in Sentosa.

With StanChart entering the night race scene this year, Marketing asked industry professionals how it can differentiate itself from established races.

Farin Salleh, managing director, Singapore, amc! asia said organisers and marketeers are always trying to up the ante to create experiences that are bigger and better year on year. She said:

Be it F1 or marathon, night races are always sexy.

"Having it as a night run this year certainly makes the race exciting and very much in line with keeping things fresh," she added. She explained that organisers will most likely be able to engage more people, especially those with families to join the evening marathon. Salleh also highlighted that for the runners, the weather would probably be a plus point.

However, given that it is StanChart's first time being part of a night race, Salleh said the team would require more planning, particularly in the areas of safety, visibility of signs and branding as well as logistics.

Agreeing with Salleh is Paul Tenza, creative director at INX Events and Productions, who said the change in event format itself is potentially appealing enough to pull more participants in. "Everyone is used to watching or taking part in the Standard Chartered Marathon in the day. The appeal to customers is that there is something new for them this year," he said.

Marketing's internal events agency partner, Yeo Wei Qi, regional director at Lighthouse Events said the night race this year could potentially provide an additional form of entertainment for the younger crowd in Singapore, given that the nightly activities in Singapore are still developing.

Yeo also agreed that without the heat, there will less likely be any medical-related casualties. In addition, she also said that night run routes could provide runners a different experience altogether.

Pulling ahead of the crowd

While there are a substantial number of marathons in Singapore annually, Yeo said StanChart's differentiation factor is in its branding itself. "StanChart does not need to work too hard to be unique as the marathon is well established and regarded. It sells by its name and branding alone as professional marathoners pride themselves by just participating in the run," she explained.

However, Tenza had a different insight as to how StanChart could create a unique positioning for itself. According to Tenza, the evening format this year could pose as a new change for competitive runners as most night runs are mainly thematic runs. Catering more for enjoyment, the Star Wars Run and Colour Run are some examples of such thematic night runs in Singapore.

He explained that the organisers for Standard Chartered Marathon should look into the logistics to stand out from the cluttered marathon scene here in Singapore. The StanChart Marathon sees overseas participants who fly down to participate in the run and the organisers have to train the staff on potential bottle necks in areas such as baggage deposit and collection points, Tenza said.

Tenza also added that integration with new technology could allow for the race to be amplified and can count as a differentiation factor. Drones for live race feeds, phone apps for live racer tracking were some examples Tenza pointed out.

Standard Chartered has yet to reveal its apparel sponsors and stakeholders involved in the marathon. On Standard Chartered Marathon's Facebook page, netizens are seen discussing the change in format. Majority have given the night race change a thumbs up, given the humidity levels in Singapore.