Phil Bilbrough: Try a little tryathlon

Try a little TRYathlon

Phil Bilbrough

Weetbix is the best brand in New Zealand. Trusted healthy and for a breakfast cereal… very active.  And I can’t think of a better sponsored event than the Weetbix Tryathlon.

My oldest, 9 years, trained diligently for this triathlon, and just that got me over the line to thinking that this was a great thing. I didn’t make the event, my partner did and she was well prepared from watching Weetbix Triathlon  “All you need to know” instructional videos. The pack arrived, there was a bit of waiting for the race, then all on and recorded on video and professional photographed.

The triathlon was a nice mix of competitiveness and participation. I was afraid that my daughter might burn off  her training partner, and she did (because she is my child and therefore doesn’t value friendship), but no worries, her partner just biked one less lap, caught up and everyone was cool.Weetbix Tryathlon

I have worked on sponsored events before and none came fractionally close to the success of this. Years ago I thought that “Skellerup Young Farmers” was a great fit (and it probably was) and the Milo kids cricket sponsorship also looks very good. Yet I can’t think of many other sponsored events with the emotion, excitement and longevity of the “Weetbix” (this being the only word to describe it that my daughter would allow).

We all know that sponsorship can build brand awareness. I played for Wellington United Football Club and in the 70s they were sponsored by Diamond pasta and we were still known as the Diamonds (not that anyone I played against knew why or bought any more pasta). Yet I don’t know of any sponsored event that builds the kind of emotion and energy in parents that the Weetbix does – its quite extraordinary.

For twenty years Weetbix has been behind this trythlon and that’s the key. There are great ideas, great concepts but a company has to stick with them to realize their value and Sanitarium has. Probably not without some discussion each year, but they have stuck with it and realized more value from an oldie but a goodie brand.

The current Weetbix box features photos of a young and fractionally older triathlete Aaron Barclay. First competing in the Weetbix tryathlon in 2002 and then another photo 8 years later at the 2010 Junior Olympic Games. OMG – that’s as inspirational as you could wish for.

My daughter swam, biked and ran and was professionally photograph most of her way and a professional video cameraman captured her finishing. All online a couple of days later and for a fee they were ours. The good feeling before during and after in our house was tangible. My partner and I beamed at the photos and videos being pitched to us and we were ringing people, posting photos, sending up smoke signals, buying space on the sides of space rockets…we were all super chuffed with Weetbix, except my daughter. She had moved on.  She’s training for the Contact 1:21 triathlon now.


Phil Bilbrough (@philbilbrough) is a freelance online advertising specialist who is blogging on the subject for Scoop at He can be contacted at



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