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Running, with brands in tow

As Scott McCormack breaks into an early-morning jog in his upscale Chennai neighbourbood, he quietly assesses the distance his brand will go this Sunday, reports Kiran Wadhwa.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2007 04:11 IST
Kiran Wadhwa
Kiran Wadhwa

As Scott McCormack breaks into an early-morning jog in his upscale Chennai neighbourbood, he quietly assesses the distance his brand will go this Sunday.

The vice-president (Marketing) of Ford India runs five miles a day to take part in Mumbai’s biggest feel-good event, the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, but he is especially glad about the mileage brands get from the event. Ford India, for instance, is associated for the first time as travel partner.

This year, the great brand yagna has opened up even newer spaces for advertising. Besides the basic T-shirts with logos, giant footballs and fancy pelican caps will blaze brands across the spectator stretch.

“When you associate with the marathon, its qualities — stamina, performance and endurance — lend itself to the brand,” said McCormack, adding, “The event forms a relatively small part of our advertising budget, but is very cost-effective as it reaches out to a lot of people.” He said national media coverage helped as well.

For DHL, the logistics partner and the second largest participating contingent, the Mumbai Marathon enjoys the largest slice of its sponsorship budget. “It adds to our brand image and recall. Running for a cause gives us a human face,” said Chandrashekhar Pipre, head of marketing, DHL.

The 48-km track provides huge opportunity for outdoor advertising, from hoardings to traffic barricades. “The marathon is very hyped and a perfect medium for visibility. The most effective are campaigns that build up and climax on the marathon day. Everything on that route is going to be covered with brands,” said Rupadhish Roy, deputy general manager, Prime Site, an outdoor advertising agency.

Moreover, buying ad space on a channel airing the marathon guarantees a large audience. “An ad space during the marathon has a higher yield,” said Satish Menon, president, Zee Sports.

But with 127 corporate teams participating in the marathon, companies are innovating to stand out from the clutter.

Dun & Bradstreet, which is supporting the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), will set out dressed in T-shirts painted like tropical forests. This task of making people look like trees is on S.M. Hussien, a freelance painter at Kala Ghoda, who has been relentlessly painting 36 T-shirts for the last four days.

Ford India has put up a graffiti wall at World Trade Centre till Saturday where celebrities will scribble their ‘most fida running moment’. On the big day, Ford will run below three 16-feet Ford logos, making it perfect for aerial shots.

Prajjal Saha, News Editor of advertising and marketing news portal Agency FAQS, gives the Mumbai Marathon eight on ten as a brand. His rider: “You can get lost in the clutter.”

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First Published: Jan 20, 2007 04:11 IST