SBD/October 2, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

IT Company TCS Signs Long-Term Deal Valued At $100M To Title Sponsor N.Y. Marathon

N.Y. Road Runners has a new title sponsor for its flagship N.Y. Marathon that will also support its other top-tier events. IT services and consulting giant Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has signed on as a top-level sponsor with NYRR in an eight-year deal that sources pegged at around $100M. NYRR officials would not confirm the value. Following the '13 N.Y. Marathon on Nov. 3, Tata will replace ING, which had been title sponsor of the marathon since '03. TCS, a $10B company, has been a N.Y. Marathon sponsor for several years and is part of the Tata group, India's largest industrial conglomerate. TCS also sponsors the Boston and Chicago marathons. This is the fourth year that TCS will sponsor all three of the largest U.S. marathons. Just as when it landed ING years ago, NYRR found a corporate patron headed by a distance runner. TCS CEO & Managing Dir Natarajan Chandrasekaran has run marathons in Mumbai, Prague, N.Y. and Stockholm. With ING exiting and the controversy surrounding the cancellation of last year's event, many thought this big ticket would be a tough sell. However, from early this year, NYRR officials indicated they were finding abundant marketplace interest. Sources said BMW was also in the hunt for around to the same money as TCS. However, those same sources said NYRR preferred TCS since it was a pure play against marathons and runnings and thus would receive more focus and marketing support. Early bidders included New York Life and some health care companies.

SIGN OF THINGS TO COME? With technology roiling the consumer and business landscapes, and every sports venue looking to provide better connectivity, Tata's big spend prompts the question of whether the tough-to-differentiate IT category will henceforth spend at the level of some of the biggest sports sponsors. Of course, IBM has been a buyer of top-shelf sports rights for years. SAP and Cisco also have been buying large sports sponsorships of late, and even an unfamiliar IT brand like High Point Solutions put its name on Rutgers' newly-renovated football stadium in '11. "We are seeing the technology category sliced more thinly and the companies invoked are all in each others' businesses," said Octagon President & CEO Rick Dudley, whose company consults for Cisco. "The challenge is combining the technology showcase, which every sponsor wants, with a branding and b-to-c reach."
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