We already knew that Fitbit devices were useful for individuals to monitor how many steps they took every day, but we believed that they could have a broader impact.

What if we could transform the daily steps recorded by Fitbit activity trackers into something more?

We came up with a simple strategy: create a charity event in which Fitbit devices are used to generate a positive impact both for the individuals using them and for others in need of a helping hand.

We conceptualised the “Steps for Millions” campaign, a fun way to engage with existing and prospective Fitbit customers and inspire them to have a positive impact on society while leading healthier, more active lives with the help of Fitbit products.

The campaign was based on a simple challenge: if the people of Hong Kong participated and collectively took 7 million steps during the campaign period—symbolically, one step for every inhabitant of Hong Kong—Fitbit would make a donation to the Children’s Heart Foundation.

There were two ways to take part:

1. Existing Fitbit users could sign up online and register their Fitbit accounts. All of their steps counted during the campaign period were included in the Steps for Millions total.

2. Anyone who was not yet a Fitbit user could visit one of two stores in Hong Kong with a Steps for Millions booth and contribute 500 or more steps on a treadmill using a Fitbit device.

Fitbit vouchers and products were offered as an added incentive for participation. These could be collected at the stores featuring Steps for Millions booths, further boosting foot traffic in these outlets.

The campaign included opening and closing media events, as well as a photo call during which famous Hong Kong athletes visited a Steps for Millions booth to participate. To reinforce the corporate social responsibility (CSR) emphasis of the campaign, representatives from the Children’s Heart Foundation present at the media events to talk about the importance of the foundation’s work.

The “Steps for Millions” campaign was a resounding success on multiple fronts.

Participants took a total of 9,907,133 steps during the campaign period, exceeding the target of 7 million steps by over 40% and reflecting an enthusiastic response to the campaign by a Hong Kong population eager to lead active lives. With the campaign target met, Fitbit was thrilled to make a substantial donation to the Children’s Heart Foundation.

The campaign also generated strong results on the basis of several marketing metrics. During January 2015, Fitbit saw its Google search ranking against Jawbone and Misfit (two competing brands) increase by 128%—nearly twice the campaign goal of a 69% increase. In addition, 54 media representatives visited the Steps for Millions booths and 56 media clips were generated as of 4 February 2015. Overall, approximately 5,940 people visited the “Steps for Millions” booths during the campaign period, giving a significant boost to the amount of foot traffic in the stores where the booths were located. Furthermore, Fitbit saw a net organic increase of about 800 fans on its Facebook page during the campaign period, with no advertising.