Case Study

ING Bay to Breakers

“Clean and Green”


The ING Bay to Breakers 12k is an event like no other. A popular San Francisco tradition for 97 years, it celebrates the unconventional spirit of the city with a race that draws both elite athletes and costumed amateurs. Although the race draws 65,000 participants each year, only half of them officially register — and most leave trash behind. Since the weekend clean-up is funded solely by registration fees, the officially registered runners are footing twice the bill that they should. In October 2007, the race managers presented LCI with two goals for the 2008 event: raise awareness of the increasing need for runners to register and encourage all participants to responsibly dispose of litter and garbage during race weekend.


LCI recommended and executed a proactive public relations campaign by creating the theme of “Clean and Green” for the 2008 race weekend. The goal was not just to increase registration and decrease trash and waste, but it was also a call to action to encourage participants and visitors to understand the connection between the two. After preparing key messages that reflected the new campaign theme, LCI recruited San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to film a television public service announcement. Asking participants to register and be responsible, the Mayor also reminded citizens that more than “250,000 cans and bottles were left in the city streets during race weekend in 2007.” The Mayor’s PSA aired 75 times on KRON-TV (an official race sponsor), and served as an effective catalyst for calling local media attention to the cleanup challenges. With this endorsement in hand, LCI then leveraged the campaign theme to other regional media, including the San Francisco Chronicle, which prepared a front page advance feature story highlighting the problems – and the solutions. The Chronicle story then helped LCI enlist regional broadcast (radio/TV) stations, with more than a half dozen major stations covering the story in depth. Working strategically with other ING Bay to Breakers media sponsors, LCI further spread the “Clean and Green” messaging to the San Francisco Bay Area.


Messaging for media coverage of the 2008 race uniformly included the campaign theme of “Clean and Green.” Moreover, the “Clean and Green” theme gave the race an innovative news hook and brought new media to the table, including the first advance feature placement outside of the San Francisco Chronicle’s sports section in recent years., which has 9,100,000 unique visitors per month, featured the story on its homepage and provided links for readers to register for the race. In addition, on the feature front, LCI secured a 10-minute national TV segment on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” featuring costumed runners and the audience guessing their day jobs. Total gross impressions hit a new high for the race, with more than 599,466,792 gross impressions and ad equivalency equaled $ 6,822,160.

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