Why isn’t anyone participating?

The American Cancer Society was having a difficult time attracting people to its team participation properties. Organized under the “Team ACS brand,” Charity Runner, its premier team participation property, had been identified as an extremely promising property that would generate tremendous revenue. Unfortunately, it was not drawing the numbers expected. “Competition” from a plethora of other non-profits was fierce and ACS was losing the fight for donor and volunteer dollars. As the website was the main vehicle for the communication and promotion of the properties, ACS hypothesized the problem must be with the website. FullSurge was engaged by ACS to determine the problem and to make recommendations on how to make the participation property more successful.

What do a bake sale and an endurance event have in common?

FullSurge commenced by meeting with the various “owners” of the participation events platform to better understand their perspectives. These one-on-one in-person interviews focused on understanding the longer-term vision for the participation platform. It was during these conversations that we learned the Charity Runner brand was being considered to extend into biking and triathlon events. With the ACS interviews completed, we turned to benchmarking the key competitive events on their websites. We also analyzed the Society’s website to fully understand how well they had been executing against the strategy vis a vis the ACS website.

This analysis led us to our “ah-ha” moment. ACS had a significant participation property segmentation and architecture problem. Any property that included some level of participation was incorporated into their participation “bucket.” At best, this lack of segmentation inhibited any communication of property prioritization or focus. At worst, this lack of segmentation significantly limited the ability to communicate property relevance. “How is a bake sale relevant to me participating in an endurance event, and what does kissing a pig have to do with me walking in a charity event?” This lack of perceived relevance was causing interested participants to get frustrated and quit their search for a property they were interested in.

We recommended: 

  • Developing a new segmentation for Team ACS properties to make it easy and intuitive for a participant to identify the desired category of event
  • Retiring the Team ACS brand as it was a misnomer, was non-differentiating or “ownable” in the charity event category and added an unnecessary layer between the “American Cancer Society” brand and the “Charity Runner” property
  • Creating a benefit based “endurance” brand that would be easily identifiable to the target audience, would be both relevant and differentiating and would help positions the American Cancer Society as innovative and current
How is a bake sale relevant to me participating in an endurance event and what does kissing a pig have to do with me walking in a charity event?
American Cancer Society DetermiNation
The birth of DetermiNation

ACS fully embraced our recommendations and revamped the website architecture to reflect our segmentation strategy. The Society then engaged FullSurge to develop the new endurance brand. Based upon our positioning for the new property, we created the DetermiNation brand which has enabled ACS’s endurance events to at-last have the success and profile expected.

“Our relationship with FullSurge spanned multiple years and many projects including brand strategy, architecture, and naming. Not only was their work outstanding but their ability to navigate the non-profit culture was bar none. The DeterminNation endurance brand they created continues to be one of the most successful. I would highly recommend working with them!”     

— Andy Goldsmith
Vice President, Creative Strategy and Brand, American Cancer Society

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