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Volume 20 No. 42
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Partners to offer NYC Marathon slots as prizes

The New York Road Runners will allow corporate partners to use entry spots in the 2012 ING New York City Marathon for sweepstakes promotions. The pilot program, called “Golden Ticket,” marks the first time the NYRR has given marathon spots to sponsors explicitly for promotional purposes.

NYRR President and CEO Mary Wittenberg said the group would likely designate 50 spots for the program, and that sponsorship representatives would ensure the spots were used for sweepstakes promotions only. The NYRR has primarily allowed participants into the marathon through a lottery, charity fundraising and participation in 10 NYRR events.

Each year approximately 125,000 runners apply to participate in the race, and the NYRR grants 60,000 entries, with approximately 45,000 runners showing up on race day.

“Our partners have wanted to do it for a long time,” Wittenberg said. “For years we have been thinking of revising that policy and leveraging the entries to build awareness and excitement for the race.”

As of press time, French media partner L’Equipe was the only partner to finalize a deal to receive spots, and it will have five entries for 2012. An NYRR spokesperson said the group is negotiating deals with Nissan, Timex, Asics and Foot Locker. The financial details of the deals were not available.

François Morinière, CEO of Group L’Equipe, said the company will run a sweepstakes program called “Win and You’re In” through its online loyalty program, which has approximately 600,000 members. Members will take an online quiz on French sports trivia, with winners being entered into the sweepstakes for the marathon entries.

Morinière said the New York City Marathon represents an aspirational marketing piece for L’Equipe’s burgeoning running business. In 2010, the company debuted the L’Equipe 10KM, a 10-kilometer running race in Paris.

“Running is a brand extension for L’Equipe we hope to have for the future,” Morinière said. “It is a high value for people in France because it is so difficult to get in [to the New York City Marathon].”

Wittenberg said the program is still in its early stages, and that she did not anticipate the number of promotional spots rising above 100 total. She said the NYRR would likely make spots available to other international media partners, as well as its domestic TV partner ESPN.

“We can use these spots to build further programming around the marathon,” Wittenberg said. “If broadcasters have entries to build interest in the marathon, there is huge value.”

Fred Dreier is a writer in New York.