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Volume 21 No. 2
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Putting in their miles: NYC Marathon sponsors increasing their activation around event

The ING New York City Marathon takes place Sunday and sponsor activation is running alongside the race.

With a new strategy emphasizing broader programs, total sponsorship commitments year-to-year are up 21 percent, while sponsor revenue has increased 17 percent and activation is more extensive.

The marathon is also in the first year of a new five-year deal with ESPN that has it appearing on live national TV (ESPN2) for the first time since 1993, requiring additional sponsor support. The marathon annually draws 45,000 runners and millions of live spectators.

“Our goals were to get deeper sponsor relationships across our events year round along with more activation and we’re achieving that,” said Ann Wells Crandall, New York Road Runners executive vice president of business development and strategic partnerships. “Running is an everyday thing and so we’re trying to match that with our sponsor support.”

Of the top-level principal sponsors renewed this year, Tata Consultancy Services’ agreement takes them though 2014 and will combine marathon support with that of the NYC Half Marathon that will be run on St. Patrick’s Day. The IT specialist is presenting sponsor of a lounge at the Time Warner Center that will feature an interactive marathon course running experience and green screen photography with social media posting capabilities.

Hospital for Special Surgery renewed for 2012 and 2013, and the medical unit will sponsor Sunday’s race, along with rights across the NYC Half Marathon and the New York Mini, an all-women’s 10K event in June. It is also providing content to the NYRR website, and the day after the marathon it stages a marathon recovery clinic.

Nissan, pushing its Pathfinder SUV, which is the lead vehicle in the race, is in for another two years and extends its presenting sponsorship of the NYRR’s Fifth Avenue Mile event in September with a Fifth Avenue Mile Experience on upper Fifth Avenue.

Asics’ recent extension of the marathon’s footwear and apparel rights takes it through 2016 and includes year-round support of numerous NYRR events and programs. Asics will continue with its 20,000-square-foot store at the Marathon Expo in the Jacob Javits Center, a massive ad display at the Columbus Circle subway station, and its “Support Your Marathoner” effort.

United Airlines, one of the event’s longest-tenured sponsors at more than 18 years, extended for an additional two years. It’s also supporting the NYC Half Marathon, along with Marathon Opening Day in April.

Title sponsor ING supports with a “Runners Nation” community on Facebook and Twitter that allows runners to connect on training and other issues. Offline, a “Runners Nation On the Go” vehicle will provide runner support at various locations.

Subway is in its third year as the marathon’s “official training restaurant.” Whitney Phelps, sister of Olympic swimmer and Subway endorser Michael, will be running this year’s race. Hilary Phelps, another sister, is running the “Dash to the Finish” 5K race the day before, along with Subway spokesman Jared Fogle.

Timex, touting its Ironman Run Trainer watch, sponsors “All My Children” actor and “Dancing With the Stars” champion J.R. Martinez’s marathon efforts. Martinez will start in the back of the race pack and Timex will donate $1 to the NYRR youth program for every runner he passes.

For those more interested in eating and drinking than running 26 miles, Coors Light stages parties on Sunday across Manhattan. Dunkin’ Donuts, which supplies around 50,000 cups of coffee during the race, also distributes thousands of co-branded fleece caps in-store and to spectators on race day. Grana Padano Cheese, a marathon sponsor since 2009, continues its Race Week Cheese Tour, with tastings at food stores across the city. Meanwhile, pretzel maker Snyder’s of Hanover has a sweepstakes offering Asics running gear and a custom training regimen as top prizes.