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Volume 22 No. 44
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Abbott to carry healthy living message with World Marathon Majors sponsorship

For most of its 126 years, Abbott has gotten along just fine without a sports sponsorship. So why did the medical company announce last week it would title the World Marathon Majors?

The answer is simple: When the pharmaceutical and health care products company split in 2012, moving its research into a different company, half of the new Abbott’s revenue came direct from consumers, said Paul Magill, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Abbott.

Abbott was so eager to get its message of healthy living across that the company, through its agency TSMGI, approached the World Marathon Majors about the title sponsorship. WMM is represented by Infront.

The deal, which is for four years and in the mid- to high six figures annually, will give Abbott branding at each finish line of the races, in London, Tokyo, Berlin, New York, Boston and Chicago. The first race under the new deal is Tokyo in February.

Each race, except Tokyo, has its own title sponsor, so Abbott will compete for attention. Its logo will be seen as part of Abbott World Marathon Majors branding.

The rest of Abbott’s plans are somewhat unformed, with activation and advertising still in development, in part dependent on one-on-one talks with individual races.

The six races formed the WMM in 2006, with $100,000 awarded extra to the top female and male finishers in rolling two-year periods. There is no real staff of WMM, with the races handling branding and organization efforts.

Abbott is the first sponsorship that the branded race concept has sold.

Like others that invest with races, Abbott likes the healthy living and aspirational attributes of endurance races, Magill said. In fact, Abbott is eager to sponsor other endurance sports.

Abbott does have one brand that is involved in sports, supplement company EAS, which backs athletes. Otherwise, Abbott’s sponsorship portfolio was limited, backing medical and technology conferences. That changed over the weekend when it sponsored the Chicago race for the first time, a separate deal from the title sponsorship.