Chapel Hill: Sports

May 7, 2014

Kenan-Flagler asks: ‘What if everybody ran?’

Mizuno would like to transform the world’s population. Really.

Mizuno would like to transform the world’s population.


From sedentary souls to active, vibrant beings.

That’s one reason MBA students at North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School recently were posed an interesting question: “What if everybody ran?”

The answers were interesting. And many of them drew the inference one might expect.

• 135 million less hours watching television.
• 200 million inches lost from waistlines.
• 48.1 million fewer cigarettes smoked each day.

The bottom line would be that the world would be a better place. People would be healthier, happier.

The study, or what they termed an “investigation” rather than an academic research project, was authored by University of North Carolina grad students by Chris Campbell, Deepak Gopalakrishna, Ellen Kane, Jessica Newfield. Kane and Campbell presented their report at a meeting Wednesday evening at Kenan-Flagler, while Gopalakrishna and Newfield appeared via video.

The students poured through quarterlies and academic reports, looking for relevant data on the effects of running and exercise on small groups and then extrapolated the numbers for larger populations.

Some of the results were light-hearted: such as the notion that, if everyone ran at least once a week, there would be 63 million happier dogs. (Because dogs love to run with their humans.)

Some results could be potentially significant: e.g., $48 billions in healthcare savings annually and a $25 billion increase in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. (Because everyone would be healthier and have fewer sick days.)

“Small changes in behavior by individuals can lead to large societal effects over large population groups,” Gopalakrishna said in his video presentation.

The study was requested by Mizuno USA, a manufacturer of running shoes and other sports gear, which has been working for the past two years with Durham-based McKinny marketing to promote a national “What If Everbdy Ran?” campaign.

Since the campaign debuted online in early March, visits to the Mizuno web page went up 25 percent and Tweets rose by about 25 million. People started following the company’s Facebook page at a rate 4 times faster than the month before, according to Ahmet Abaci, Mizuno USA’s vice president of Brand Marketing and Management.

For a company that accounts for just 1 percent of advertising in the media market,” social media are very important,” Abaci said.

Mizuno has a well-deserved reputation as a maker of top-shelf shoes, as well as other sporting gear, everything from baseball to volleyball gear. It’s better known in some circles for its soccer cleats, but Mizuno shoes are a favorite of elite runners.

During part of his presentation, Abaci displayed a pyramid graphic showing a small percentage of “running junkies,” a larger set of “passionate purists,” and “run-for-funners” as the biggest group.

Mizuno does best with the junkies, but it wouldn’t mind if the other groups would buy into its products and its philosophies.

And “philosophy” seems to be the right word.

McKinney and Mizuno unveiled the term “ mezamashii” more than a year ago – a word applied to “sensational, energized experiences,” Abaci said.

The English word used over and over during last Wednesday’s presentation was “transformative.”

Abaci said Mizuno would like to see the whole world active and alert, healthier, happier.

It’s a convincing thought.

After watching a series of quick video spots produced by McKinney in support of the campaign, even the starchiest couch potatoes in the audience could feel an urge to get up and get moving.

The sense that everyone would be better off if we were more active was undeniable.

And it’s easy to see ourselves transformed for the better, if we’d try.

As Kane said, simply: “I feel smarter, more creative and better physically after I run.”

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