Timex Asks Runners: Who Needs A Cell Phone?

In a bid to get the average runner to leave the cell phone at home, Timex has created an 800-mile relay race as a way to showcase its new Ironman One GPS.

Called the Timex One Relay, the 22-day event will include more than 100 runners and connect the Chicago and New York City marathons, linking each runner’s contribution to their favorite charities. And while much of the Fall marathon season focuses on the fleet feet of the world’s fastest athletes, “we are focusing on 120 everyday runners — each of them wearing the new watch,” says Sam Martin, brand manager at Timex. “We’re not focusing on the elite.”

“Our new watch is the only smartwatch that features wireless connectivity without a phone, and this showcases the features like its GPS, its communications, live tracking, and music,” he tells Marketing Daily. “The relay event is an ideal way to bring those features to life.”



The product is aimed at the 65% of runners who bring their phones with them when they head out the door. “We wondered why, and know it’s a hard habit to break. So we built in all the functions people want when they’re on a run — music, communication, GPS, messaging, and live tracking. We hope it’s a little bit of a game changer.”

Martin says the 800-mile route is not a true relay, like that of passing the Olympic Torch, but instead ends each day at some retail destination, he explains. “The idea was, ‘What if the watch became the baton?’ That way, we can end each day doing something like a running clinic or a fun run. We want to really engage the running community.”

The event will allow people to track the relay progress in real-time, and send encouraging messages directly to the runners, who will get them on their watch along the route. Consumers can check in on the race at, which includes an interactive route map and message center.

Rather than linking to a single cause, Martin says, a key element came from working with Charity Miles, a group that connects runners with many charities. Participating runners, some signing up for two miles, and others running as many as 14, can then choose to direct their contributions to their favorite, choosing from such groups as Back on My Feet, Girls on the Run, and Soles4Souls. Timex is giving $100 for every mile they run.

(In a happy coincidence, the product recently got a nice plug on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” when the comic included a joke about it failing to tell time.)

Besides social media surrounding the event, the company is also doing conventional print and digital advertising for the new watch.

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