Issue: Newton PR was tasked by ASICS South Africa to create awareness of its association with the UK’s Save the Rhino charity and generate brand awareness around the Comrades Marathon.

Idea: Use the Save the Rhino’s own resource a charity runner to run the Comrades Marathon in its trademark human size 8.5kg rhino suit – a first ever for an ultra-marathon. The stunt had been completed before but by relay teams so if possible this would a significant feat. The runner, Vincent O’Neill, was fully kitted out in ASICS apparel and runners and the public would get a chance to meet the Rhino Runner at the brand’s iconic stand at the Comrades Marathon Expo.

Impact: Not only did the Rhino Runner finish the race in a life size rhino suit but he did so in record time, well ahead of the cut-off time. He was filmed numerous times on live television and made national and local headlines. He was featured on SABC prime time news and all its radio stations as well as the John Robbie show on Radio 702, which also ran live tweets of his progress over the demanding course.

In addition, O’ Neil’s backpack containing his personal belongings was stolen at the Expo and a Newton PR media release announcing the news was carried in media across the country, including SAPA.

The campaign also generated significant funds for the fight against poaching while ASICS SA benefited from the positive brand association among its core market as well as being seen as the performance brand of choice of the only runner to ever complete the race in a life-sized 8,5kg rhino suit.

Runner’s World magazine ran a double page spread of the “Rhino Runner” in their September Issue, which also detailed the state-of-the-art ASICS running laboratory in the UK.