Wings for life spread throughout the world, this popular race that amazes everyone, but a lot of us don’t know the details about it. Who is behind this story? How does the marketing look?  What is the goal? Answers to these and many other questions are in the following text.

Wings for life foundation was found in 2003 by Heinz Kinigadner, a motocross world champion, and Dietrich Mateschitz, the founder of Red Bull.

Motivated by the car accident of Heinz’s son, who stayed paralyzed after it, they realized that only a small ammount of research around the world is conducted on spinal cord and spinal cord injuries.


They invited the world’s leading researchers/scientists, and after a detailed researches, they concluded that damaged nervous cells of the spinal cord can be regenerated. Despite what everyone was saying, they came to a conclusion that spinal cord injuries can be healed.

To spread the word about the foundation, in 2013, 10 years after it was found, it was a global race called Wings for Life World Run was initiated. That race starts at the same time throughout the whole world, regardless of the time zones, seasons, temperatures, day or night….

All the money collected from start fees and donations are invested in the most modern research, while all the administrative costs are covered by Red Bull. 

Run for life ”fever”

Communication about the upcoming race starts in September, almost nine months before the actual race. When it comes to Croatia, in order to attract as many runners as possible for the race, it was crucial to connect with Croatian Paraplegic and Tetraplegic association, roam the rehabilitation centres, talk to people who are living with the consequences of spinal cord injuries, as well as their doctors, get to the core of the problem, and try to identiify with the problems these people encounter on a daily basis. After that was done, the focus was turned to professional athletes.

First of all it was important to gather some of the most eminent athletes, and they accepted to be the ambassadors of the race and spread the awareness about it and its main goal. In Croatia, the ambassadors are Lisa Stublić, Dejan Patrčević, Sinković brothers, Mario Valentić, Nika Fleiss, Marijo Možnik etc. Besides them, the ambassador was also Manda Knežević, the president of Croatian Paraplegic and Tetraplegic  association.

The ambassadors visited sport clubs and racing clubs, followed their workouts, and published stories and photos from their preparations for the Wings for Life World Run race. All the stories were frequently shared on the communication channels, especially social networks (primarily on the Facebook page of the event), where we managed to create a relationship with the runners through communication. One step at a time, we created this positive community of people who are preparing and communicationg about the upcoming Wings for Life World Run race all together.

What makes this race so special is the positive energy that is invested and surrounds everything about it. First of all, everyone who starts the race is a winner.  There is no goal, everyone runs based on their personal capabilities and for the same purpose: to make the spinal cord injuries healable.

There is no place for rivalry or competition in this race.  Start of this race includes a mutual warm up with music and dance, and upon return to the start line, all runners watch the finish of the race together on a video screen, which helps in building closeness and a positive spirit of this community even more. 

Promotion as a challenge

While the number of runners was slowly but surely growing, the number of people who were interested in covering this race was also growing.  At the beginning, the promotion of this event was a little bit challenging because it was necessary to explain to peoplewhy this race is different than any other race. Step by step, race by race, Wings for Life World Run built a recognizable community which is very interesting to media. Screenshot 2015-11-09 23.17.04 Online promotion of this project is led by two people, with a third person whose job is to answer runners’ e-mails. Out of these two people, one is responsible for public relations and content creation (text, photo, video) for the media, as well as Wings For Life World Run social networks.

The other person is in charge of placing this content on the online platforms: and   Screenshot 2015-11-09 23.20.15 The most successful channel is the Facebook event page, which gathered 4000 runners last year.  This year, in just a month, more than 2500 runners became a part of it.  This is the main information ‘counter’ for everything related to this race – pre, post, during the race. The communication is in Croatian as well as in English. Right now, introducing new platforms (such as Snapchat) is not the option. Website, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and race partners’s channels will stay  the most important communication channels.

With growth of the race, some new online communication platforms will definitely be introduced.

Global real-time communication

When it comes to global real-time communication, headquarters are located in Spielberg (Austria), where all the producers and people responsible for the race on global level are situated.

One person is in charge of three countries and responsible for live streaming, key moments of the race etc.  All the information and start confirmation come from Spielberg, and so does possible crisis communication and delay information.

Center in Spielberg receives TV signal from all the countries, chooses key moments and makes a global TV feed. Countries where the race is held take up the global signal and mix it with the local feed (local race cast).

Website offers a complete live experience of the whole race. You can see all the races and runners, where each runner is located, did the they finish the race and their results.  Website also gives you a list of any sights you might be interested in seeing in each host city. 

Promotion of Red Bull is not the goal

The main and the only goal of Wings for Life foundation is finding the cure for spinal cord injuries.  The only thing that the foundation needs is the funding for research and the whole Red Bull company sees that as the main goal, which will be accomplished. It is just a mater of time when it will happen.

This is a humanitarian project with the goal of changing the world and improving the quality of life of numerous people. Its goal is not to promote Red Bull. Despite that, all the people who are involved in this race (runners ot partners) are aware that Red Bull stands behind this. Moreover, Red Bull is now recognized as a socially responsible brand, one that put the goal of the millions of people around the world ahead of its own promotion.  


PHOTO: Wings for Life

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