John Hancock Insurance, Adidas, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute sponsor the Boston Marathon; Bank of America sponsors the Chicago Marathon; and Amica Insurance sponsors the Seattle Marathon. Each of these companies have found it beneficial to sponsor marathons. Marathon participants fit into a niche market: they lead active lifestyles and are also generally driven. Companies who see this group of people as their target market will benefit from sponsoring the run.
Marathons are generally held in large metropolitan areas. Therefore, marathon sponsorships have a high visibility rate via public transportation advertisement and highway billboards. According to ProVentures, “Marathons give sponsors the probability of a strong ROI. It’s a good cause with a large reach that is a high-performance and casual sport all rolled into one event. It has the ability to capture consumer attention, especially if a brand’s activation integrates several physical marketing aspects during the race, as well as taking advantage of digital tools to achieve maximum exposure.”
Companies have gotten creative with their sponsorships in years past. In 2010, Bank of America gave runners who were Bank of America customers special access wristbands for the day of the race, allowing them to collect snacks/drinks, take a bathroom break, or even grab a chair pre/post race. To read more creative sponsorship ideas, read IEG’s 2010 blog post.
Overall, marathon sponsorship is a great way for brands to communicate brand extension to both the participants as well as those who visit or live in the area in which the race is held.