Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: In with the Sporting Crowd

Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: In with the Sporting Crowd

Article excerpt

The rise of mass-participation events is providing brands with an effective route to a broad audience.

London is home to some of the biggest mass-participation sporting events in the world, including the leading triathlon, duathlon and, arguably, the most iconic marathon in the world.

The Mazda London Triathlon has grown from 1000 to 13,000 participants over the past five years, and triathlons as a whole boast 10% annual growth, making them one of the fastest-growing mass-participation sports in the UK.

This trend presents attractive opportunities for brands. 'Sponsors see these events as an uncluttered market,' says Nick Rusling, managing director of mass-participation sports at IMG. 'By sponsoring the London Triathlon and the British Triathlon Association, Mazda has made the sport its own.'

According to Nigel Currie, director at sports agency brandRapport, such events are also becoming more appealing to broadcasters, giving brands an even wider audience. 'These sports are being given more time on television as the editorial gets better,' he says. 'Technology and fantastic pre-production have made the coverage exciting. For example, broadcasters film background stories to slot into the footage.'

Last week, Virgin Group announced it was to take over the title sponsorship of the London Marathon from 2010, in a pounds 17m, five-year deal. The tie will be led by Virgin Money, but the brand hopes to bring its experience in running the V-Festival to bear on the event, giving it a carnival atmosphere and staging music events around the race.

Participants' involvement in the Marathon begins when they register, months before the event, giving brands the opportunity to create a sustained dialogue. 'Flora turned the (London Marathon) into a year-round experience. It ran promotions in the autumn in The Times, launched a shorter women's run - the Flora Light Challenge - and ran on-pack work,' says Currie.

Last week Nova International, the Great Run Series organiser, announced plans to expand its event portfolio to include swimming, walking, cycling, dance and in-gym competitions, creating a series of marketing opportunities for brands (Marketing, 21 May). 'The marketing potential is huge,' adds Currie. …

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