The first Blade Jam Only From Rollerblade hit the ground this month at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, in conjunction with the second Ultimate In-Line Skating Challenge Presented by Rollerblade.
The Ultimate Challenge showcased the talents of 125 elite in-line skaters April 11 to 13; it will be televised next month and in June on ESPN and ESPN2.
Next to the demonstration was the Blade Jam, where spectators were encouraged to give the sport a try, said George Steele, senior director of marketing services for Rollerblade, the leading marketer of in-line skates.
Though the Ultimate Challenge was a one-shot event, the Blade Jam will pop up again in two other cities. The interactive grass-roots event will hit New York in July and Los Angeles in August.
More than 10,000 participants visited the activities in Orlando and 2,210 signed waivers to strap on Rollerblades, exceeding expectations, said a spokeswoman.
Advantage International, Mc-Lean, Va., helped coordinate the Ultimate Challenge and Blade Jam, and brought in co-sponsors including Casio's G-Shock sports watches, M&M Mars' Snickers, Clearly Canadian's Orbitz soft drink and Duncan yo-yos. Each got on-site promotion opportunities and will appear during the telecasts via event signage and the opportunity to run commercials.
At the Blade Jam, eight certified instructors are on hand to show beginners basics of the sport plus safety moves, while encouraging them to try limited stunts.
For all the marketers, the Ultimate Challenge and Blade Jam are a way to tap a potentially lucrative and passionate audience, especially because in-line skating becomes immediately accessible to the sport's fan base, said Scott Becker, president of Sports & Sponsorships, Coral Gables, Fla.