Spartan: Creating Loyal Brand Activation Army

Spartan is a global fitness brand with a 10 million-plus community that creates experiences, products, and content to help people, companies and teams expand what they believe to be possible.

Spartan's CMO, Carola Jain, will discuss how the company has driven brand growth and become part of its customers’ lifestyles at the Association of National Advertisers Brand Activation Conference April 22-24 in San Diego. 

Q: How have you used brand activation to help you build the Spartan brand?
A:  Spartan has over 250 brand activations across 48 countries — from Abu Dhabi to Austin, Texas — that range from races in epic sand dunes to experiential activations at large-scale industry events. 

We touch over 1.3 million physical customers every year at our races and events, and over 12 million digitally.  While the physical obstacle course races and pop-up courses represent the in-person experiential part of our brand, we have recently focused heavily on our “digital experience.”  



One of my favorite recent activations was a partnership with Harley-Davidson. We set up courses in dealerships around the country and created a video series titled “The Thrill of the Ride.”

Digital content is designed to strategically be shared across all of our channels — from email to social — hitting 12.7 million touchpoints each year. 

Q: What has been the most effective tool in your brand activation arsenal?

A: Pop-up workout tours and custom courses in unexpected places (such as conferences, car dealerships, hospitals, hotels, etc.) have been our record growth areas. They also allow us to enhance brand partnerships beyond what’s possible at a traditional race venue. 

This April we will pop up at SXSW, where teams and brand leaders can tackle a real Spartan course. We are also excited to attend The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. We’ve designed “Spartan @ Inkwell Beach” to reframe the conversation on diversity and inclusion via bringing attendees together as they overcome obstacles.

Q: How big a role do influencers play in your brand activation efforts?

A: We subscribe to the idea that everyone is an influencer.  We engage our Spartan network of innovators, influencers, and performance-obsessed athletes across all our activations. We open opportunities for them to endorse products authentically. 

Of course, our European-based retail partner, CRAFT, provides our pro team with training and racing gear, which has allowed CRAFT to have a growing presence in the United States. We also have a full suite of our own branded merchandise, which is projected to double in size in 2020.  We proved this with our BOSE activation, which hit 7M digital impressions. Of course, the races highlighted the partnership with ample branding, but social wove in gritty photos of real people and pros using the headphones.

Q: Micro and macro-influencers—can you explain which role each of them play in your brand activation strategy?

A: Micro: They’ve made us a badge brand; they’re the lifeblood of Spartan. Superfans represent Spartan 24-7 around the globe by posting workouts on social media to educating their personal networks about the brand. I was just in a store and overheard a proud mom showing off her son’s Spartan races on Instagram!  

Macro: These are our pro and elite athletes, and other well-known ambassadors. We leverage them for media opportunities, social activations, PR opportunities, and editorial content and coaching on our channel as well as our new Spartan EDGE coaching platform.

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