Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Race Sponsorship

Sitting in front of the TV last night, I took notice of something that I don’t see in road racing as much.

In every direction that you turn, there appears to be a sponsor of something. There is a sponsor for the pregame show, half time show, and post game show. There are sponsors of game summaries and breaks during the game. Practically everything that can be sponsored is being sponsored.

But when I looked at road racing, I don’t see the same type of sponsor involvement. Maybe it has something to do with how our sport works or maybe with organizing such efforts. I am not really sure.

However, if we want our sport to continue to grow, we know we cannot do it without sponsorship involvement. Putting on road races cost money and unless we want entry fees to go up like the price of gasoline, we need to have more sponsors to come into our sport and to show them how being involved in running and road racing pays for it self. (This last part I want to save for a future article)

For now, let’s focus on where we could have existing and new sponsors show their brand names during a race weekend:

o “Sponsor Name” warm up run and stretching before the race
o “Sponsor Name” warm down run and stretching after the race
o “Sponsor Name” post race refueling station.
o “Sponsor Name” in race mile 1, 2, 3, etc water stops.

The list above took me maybe 10 minutes to gather. Given more time there are probably numerous other areas at the races that could be sponsored.


Timothy said...
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Timothy said...

Interesting topic, but...

There is no return on investment in advertising with the sport of running (whether road races or on the track).

Even the Olympic Trials (2008 track and the Men's and Women's marathons) struggled to get 'lower level sponsorships', below the obvious contracts with Nike & Visa.

The sport is not marketed or shown in the same light as other major sports. Because, unfortunately, it is not major. Participation numbers at even the biggest marathons can't hold a candle to what other sports draw in 'interest' alone.

Heck, a company is better off sponsoring an X-Games type event than a running event.

Your ideas could work on the local level, with local Mom & Pop types companies... but in the regional and national markets, such ideas have crashed and burned, and in the process, cost companies millions of dollars.

Like you, I wish it were different... but companies don't look at it like 'runners' look at it. Everything is a calculated business decision, especially in today's economy.

Siman said...

I agree with comments. It is very hard to get sponsors to see and understand the ROI on running.

As I see it there are two main issues with race and runner sponsorship.

First, there is no way to develop story lines like football, basketball, baseball or even that matter Nascar. Running is such an individualize sport with runners and races being here today and gone tomorrow.

Secondly, there is an issue with exposure. Local races get very little or no media coverage. Primary example, here in Charlotte the Observer has 0.00001 % coverage of running events. It publishes a list of races once a week (maybe). Even the Thunder Road marathon gets minimal coverage and that coverage is stresses what roads will be closed in during the marathon. Not exactly the type of coverage that helps a sport grow a sport or an event.

I guess these companies don’t realize that runners might want to buy their products or read their paper.