The ING New York City Marathon is a massive event in the US calendar, as 300 million viewers tune in to watch 45,000 international runners from 42 countries take to the streets and cross that finish line.
Naturally a social sporting event such as this brings out plenty of brand sponsors eager to get in on the action. This year’s event was no exception, with around 24 major brands aligning with the event in some form, from Continental Airlines, the Foot Locker, New York Times, and Timex, through to Nissan, Subway, Unilever and adidas.
All of these brands made the mark on the run in their own way, from Nissan’s 'cheer zones’ to Adidas’ innovative miCoach training platform watch. However, one brand went beyond the track and brought the runner’s friends and family up close and personal just when they needed it most.
ASICS, the Japanese sportswear company and a ‘Principal Sponsor’ of the event initiated the ‘Support Your Marathoner’ website in the run up to the race, enabling loved ones to record video, upload photos and send messages of encouragement to their chosen runner. The campaign was promoted via the brand’s own website, the Road Runners Club, influential bloggers and across social media.
In addition, during the actual race week ASICS set up video booths across the city where friends and family could record bespoke video messages. These video messages were then used in combination with a “trigger strip”, a unique RFID tag that every runner received when registering for the marathon, to connect people as the race unfolded. As the runners traversed the course they would cross over specially placed sensors in the road, which would enable the RFID tags attached to their shoes to trigger personalised video messages on large track-side video screens.
The campaign included messages from 17 countries for 7,000 runners and tapped directly into a core need for runners and supporters alike - the ability to feel connected at the most crucial part of the event.