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Volume 21 No. 2
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Sponsors warming up for activation around NYC Marathon

Terry Lefton
With the ING-titled New York City Marathon approaching with the speed of a Kenyan runner, the parent New York Road Runners has signed four new sponsors and renewed five others. Quick-service restaurant Subway was pleased enough with its first-year designation as the marathon’s “official training restaurant” that it has renewed for another year. As part of its 2011 activation plans, Subway endorser Apolo Anton Ohno will run in this year’s marathon and appear in point-of-sale ads. Last year, Subway uberspokesman Jared Fogle completed the 26.2-mile course in 5:13.

Subway, Asics and Timex are among those getting programs ready for the ING-titled event.
Longtime partner Asics, a sponsor since 1999, has renewed in the apparel/footwear category for an additional five years and will continue to activate with out-of-home ads, including bus wraps. United Airlines has renewed with both the NYC Marathon and Half Marathon. Include the merged Continental’s time as a NYC Marathon sponsor and you get a 17-year legacy. Incumbents Coors Light and Timex, which will have softballer Jennie Finch running on its behalf and will be touting its Run Trainer watch, have also renewed. Coors, the event’s official beer, will be promoting the NYC Marathon at more than 100 local on-premise accounts. “Of course, we love the endemic running brands, but what we like about brands like Coors and Subway is that they speak to such a broad base of our fans,” said Ann Wells Crandall, executive vice president of business development and strategy.

New sponsors include Wonderful Indonesia, the tourism agency for the Southeast Asian nation, which is the world’s fourth most populous country. Indonesia shares the category with Andalucia Sports Bureau.

Each will participate in an International Taste of Travel event the Friday before the marathon, which will be run Nov. 6. Also new to the fold is Prestige Brands’ New-Skin, a liquid bandage and antiseptic in one, and Yurbuds earphones. The Magic Bullet handheld blender is coming as a hybrid sponsor/licensee and will produce a NYC Marathon-branded model for the many runners addicted to smoothies. All sponsors get media on a combination of national and local TV telecasts and with The New York Times, a marathon sponsor since 1997. Toting up her scoreboard, Crandall said that including rights fees and value-in-kind contributions to the organization’s bottom line, NYC Marathon sponsorship increased 30 percent this year over last from new partners.

TRUCKIN’: Fresh off a four-year renewal of its franchise position as the NFL’s official vehicle, GMC is expanding its activation in its second year of sponsoring the “Monday Night Football” tour. This year’s expansive program is held within a 120-by-120 footprint adjacent to shopping malls in “MNF” markets with a variety of football activities.

Fans are invited to test their football skills for a chance to win “Monday Night Football” game tickets, gift cards and signed memorabilia. Active and retired NFL players from the local NFL teams will make appearances and sign autographs at malls in “MNF” markets in the weekend before games, where consumers can also sign up for test drives of GMC’s Acadia, Sierra crossover and Terrain and Yukon SUVs and qualify to win “MNF” tickets and other NFL prizes. Fans can try being a sportscaster with “MNF” talent Mike Tirico in a virtual broadcast booth. Adjacent lounges enable fans to watch football on big screens, and supporting cause-related programs fund Hispanic-themed Play 60 initiatives and build playgrounds in “MNF” cities. The activation will be supported through radio, digital and social media. Intersport, Chicago, handles for GMC.

MILLERCOORS: While the final ramifications of Anheuser-Busch’s lawsuit vs. MillerCoors regarding their recent NHL sponsorship are still unclear north of the border with Molson Coors, domestic plans are solid. Ryan Luckey, director of sports and entertainment marketing at MillerCoors, said the U.S. rights will accrue to Molson Canadian regionally, in the Northeast, Midwest and other markets, beginning with
Molson Canadian will sport NHL packaging.
packaging and point-of-sale next month, and Coors Light nationally, from the Winter Classic through the Stanley Cup playoffs. “For Molson Canadian this is a primary brand building opportunity, so they will go with NHL year round on packaging,” said Luckey. In support, MillerCoors has added club deals with the Washington Capitals, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning, and a “Grab the Cold, Raise the Cup” promo planned for March and April plays into social media by asking fans to take a picture of themselves inside a point-of-sale stand-up of a faceless Coors Light player holding the cup. Images can be sent in for sweeps entry via Facebook, a microsite, or mobile phone. Prizes include a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. “We want to help build the NHL postseason into something like March Madness, and we’re the brand that can drive traffic in bars and restaurants to support that,” Luckey said.

Gone grape: Jeff Dubiel, formerly of Pepsi, is now EVP of marketing for The Wine Group.
COMINGS & GOINGS: Former Pepsi vice president of sports marketing Jeff Dubiel has resurfaced 3,000 miles west, but he’s still a beverage marketer. Dubiel, who left Pepsi in June after 13 years, is now executive vice president of marketing at The Wine Group, a Livermore, Calif., company that specializes in value brands like FishEye, Cupcake, Mogen David and Franzia “wine in a box.” We’re told The Wine Group, which was once owned by Coke, is the second-largest wine company in America, behind E&J Gallo, where Dubiel began his marketing career.

Terry Lefton can be reached at