SBD/Issue 141/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Winner Of Boston Marathon’s Masters Title Wears Banned Shoe

Spira Makes Splash At Boston
Marathon With Bright Yellow Shoes
Oleg Strijakov won the men’s masters division of the Boston Marathon yesterday while wearing a pair of Spira running shoes that have been banned by the USATF, but the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) “will uphold [his] victory, which earned him $10,000,” according to Dan Duggan of the BOSTON HERALD. The USATF banned the shoe “because it has spring technology that gives runners an advantage.” BAA spokesperson Jack Fleming: “The shoe company has promoted the shoe as illegal, but no one else has said that. The race officials have not received any protests or complaints.” But the possibility that Strijakov “could have his victory challenged” concerned Spira CEO Andy Krafsur, who said, “I’m somewhat surprised [by the BAA upholding the victory]. The rule is the rule, but the BAA has decided not to enforce the rule as written. It creates a circumstance where the second-place finisher could challenge, saying (Strijakov) wore an illegal shoe.” A number of other runners wore the banned shoe. The top overall finisher wearing the shoe was Tamrat Ayalew in 42nd place (BOSTON HERALD, 4/17).

YELLOW SUBMARINE: CNBC’s Darren Rovell noted the bright yellow Spira shoes were also worn by Jared Nyamboki and Josephat Ongeri, two “complete unknowns (who) ran away from the pack” at the start of the race. At the time, Versus announcer Larry Rawson said, “Take a look at these guys who are out front right now. ... They’re probably advertising some sponsorship.” But the Spira brand was never mentioned and they stayed out front for 1 hour, 32 minutes before dropping out. Advertising and PR author Laura Ries said of Spira, “The best thing they ever did was make these shoes bright yellow and everyone noticed them.” Krafsur: “Our goal now is to get our shoes on more and more people and to create the buzz and create the word of mouth, because we don’t have an advertising budget that can compete with our competitors.” Rovell noted Spira sued USATF last week saying that the rule banning its design violates anti-trust laws (“On The Money,” CBNC, 4/16).

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