In the Wake of Boston Tragedy, Sponsors and Properties Discuss What’s Next

By Jim Andrews Apr 29, 2013

In the Wake of Boston Tragedy, Sponsors and Properties Discuss What’s Next

The following is being published today in IEG Sponsorship Report, but we wanted to also share it with a broader audience beyond IEG SR subscribers.

Although the twin bombings at the Boston Marathon have already had a significant impact on marathons and other types of events—namely increased security—most sponsorship veterans expect the incident to have little impact on sponsorship spending in the endurance sports space.

“First and foremost, the attack was not on running but the citizens of Boston and the American psyche. The idea of this potential risk has been on the mind of every event producer since 9/11,” said Scott Dickey, CEO of The Competitor Group, which owns and manages the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, TriRock Triathlon Series and other endurance sports events around the world.

If anything, the incident has pulled together runners like never before.

“The one thing that we have seen is incredible interest among runners in participating and supporting events they feel passionate about. That surge in demand will continue to fuel growth and participation in the sport,” said Dickey.

Brian Corcoran, president of Shamrock Sports & Entertainment, takes a similar view. The sales agency represents the Boston Marathon, the TD Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth, Maine and other endurance sports events.

“We expect participation to grow stronger as a result of the unfortunate events that unfolded in Boston. We envision casual runners will join avid endurance sports communities to share in the physical and psychological-related benefits in pursuit of healthier and happier lifestyles.”

In addition to runners, sponsors, event producers and other stakeholders are increasingly banding together to support the victims of the Boston tragedy and the running community as a whole.

For example, The Competitor Group has teamed with US Road Sports & Entertainment Group, Brooks Sports, Inc., Transamerica Life Insurance Co., the Independent Running Retailers Assn. and other organizations to form Run Now, an industry coalition designed to show solidarity with the running community and raise funds for The One Fund Boston, the nonprofit created by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to support those impacted by the tragedy.

The organizations last week launched, a site where consumers can donate money to The One Fund, learn about volunteer opportunities and otherwise support the running community.

Goals of Run Now include the following:

  • Raise $1 million for The One Fund by June 5, 2013 (National Running Day)
  • Offer free race entries to the 4,500 Boston Marathon participants who were diverted prior to the finish line
  • Distribute more than 1,000 tribute wristbands

Other companies involved in endurance sports also have launched programs that support The One Fund. Adidas is selling a limited-edition “Boston Stands as One” T-shirt, while Saucony is selling a lace medallion. The medallion features the #BostonStrong hashtag and a lace-up heart icon.

Adidas and Saucony are both donating 100 percent of profits to the nonprofit.

In addition, Virgin activated the Virgin London Marathon—a tie it has since extended through 2014—by donating £2 for every runner that finished the race. The event took place April 21st, five days after the Boston tragedy.

“There are a number of initiatives focused on raising money, and I’m sure we’ll continue to see that grow and gain momentum,” said Dickey.

Jackie Fast, managing director of London-based Slingshot Sponsorship, points to another potential silver lining: more focus on partnerships.

“I think out of this horrible tragedy, sponsorship has really proven that relationships exist beyond the often viewed “commercialization” of events—showcasing how true partnerships exist within sponsorship. If anything, I hope rights owners will be enlightened by what has happened and start viewing sponsors as partners rather than just monetary funding objectives.”

“Hopefully other sponsors will be inspired by the dedication and commitment of the Boston and London marathons, which in turn will lead them to pursue partnerships of a similar nature.”

Sponsor Reactions To The Boston Tragedy

Alison Steinberg, corporate communications, JetBlue 
As a sponsor of the Boston Marathon, we’d like to convey our continued support of the Boston Athletic Association and to all of the runners who participated this year during these difficult and highly unpredictable times.

Our sponsorship agreement in this particular case, as well as our protocol for evaluating partnerships, does not change. As the largest airline in Boston, we’ll continue to support those ventures that matter most to the community, as we do in many of the cities that we serve.

T.J. Crawford, senior vice president of media relations, Bank of America 
We’re heartbroken, along with the rest of the nation, following the tragic events in Boston. Our focus is on the victims and the city, and doing what we can to help. This includes accepting donations to The One Fund Boston at our banking centers across the country.

The Chicago Marathon continues to be a marquee sponsorship for Bank of America, an increasingly important event for Chicago tourism, and a source of pride for residents. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll work with city officials, law enforcement and our marathon team to plan October’s race. The tragedy in Boston will clearly play an enormous role in that process.

Jane Lazgin, spokesperson, Nestlé Waters North America
The events will not change our commitment to endurance sports. We already had protocols in place to help us, under most any circumstances, to account for all employees involved in an event, as participants and as volunteers.

Our event sponsorship management will name point people for the team at our events. That point person is asked to be aware of where NWNA participants and volunteers are located and how they are identified. They are clear on who to contact at the corporate office or elsewhere for events on a weekend, if a situation occurs where employees need to be accounted for. The safety of our employees is critical to us. We also, of course, work with event directors on their safety protocols for all participants in an event.


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Jim Andrews

About the Author

A 30-year sponsorship industry veteran, Jim is responsible for developing and sharing thought-leadership content based on ESP Properties’ groundbreaking work in the areas of sponsorship strategy, valuation, measurement, digital content, data-driven marketing and fan engagement.

In addition to identifying key trends and delivering his unique insights into the critical issues facing rightsholders and their commercial partners, Jim is the chairman of the Annual Sponsorship Conference, responsible for the program and speakers, as well as hosting and delivering the event’s opening address. He also is responsible for the company’s annual report and forecast of overall sponsorship spending, as well as its compilation of biggest spending companies and annual industry surveys.

A frequent media commentator and guest, Jim has been a featured speaker at hundreds of sports, entertainment and marketing conferences around the world.



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