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Volume 21 No. 2

Events and Attractions

The Competitor Group is bringing burgers and beer to marathon runners.

Both sponsors will activate at the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego.
The owner of the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon series has signed McDonald’s as its official quick-service restaurant and replaced Miller’s MGD 64 with Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob Ultra as its official beer. A source pegged both deals in the low to mid-six figures.

According to a Competitor representative, McDonald’s will activate its single-year deal at races in San Diego, Denver, Seattle, Philadelphia and Chicago.

Anheuser-Busch will activate its multiyear deal at all 24 U.S. Rock ’n’ Roll races, with an inflatable dome, sampling and a branded concert stage, and with signage at local distributors. A-B also will place kiosks near the finish line where participants can upload photos to social media.

“We’re at a tipping point with endurance sports gaining non-endemic interest,” said Scott Dickey, CEO for the Competitor Group. “The big boys are starting to take note of who we are.”

The two deals follow a busy period of renewals and new signings for Competitor, which this year added four U.S. races and two international events to the Rock ’n’ Roll Series. Not all sponsors signed nationwide deals, however.

Brooks Sports renewed as a series-wide shoe sponsor, and Mars signed a series-wide deal to promote its Marathon Bar after a three-race test run in 2011. Competitor also renewed restaurant P.F. Chang’s as title sponsor of its Phoenix marathon; Sony renewed as a four-race partner; Garmin renewed for three events; and XSport Fitness clubs renewed as the title sponsor of the Chicago half marathon and a sponsor of the Washington, D.C., half marathon.

Ryan Moore, vice president of premium light beer for Anheuser-Busch, said the nationwide deal provided “value and opportunity. They’ve done a good job of packaging the network. We’ve created a pretty good footprint of individual city runs and bike races, and [the Rock ’n’ Roll series] feels like more of a league.”

Anheuser-Busch previously has partnered with individual events such as the Amgen Tour of California, Marine Corps Marathon and Chicago’s Shamrock Shuffle.

According to Georgina Roy, McDonald’s director of customer engagement, the restaurant will promote its McCafé smoothies and apple slice snacks at the events.

Dickey said Competitor is eyeing the financial services and telecommunications categories, as well as the automotive category, which saw Dodge depart after sponsoring five races in 2011.

“We felt a little pain losing Dodge, but we have a number of autos at the table,” he said.

Fred Dreier is a writer based in New York.