Chris Reed
Dec 2, 2011

OPINION: Singapore Marathon’s brand partners are running on empty

The Official Singapore Marathon is on Sunday 4 December and you would expect the sponsors and partners to be aggressively marketing the tie up but unbelievably none of them really are.

Chris Reed, regional partnerships director Asia Pacific, Partnership Marketing
Chris Reed, regional partnerships director Asia Pacific, Partnership Marketing

Don’t get me wrong it’s a big deal. It’s sold out (as it is every year) with 70,000 participants. There are a million posters along the route and extensive marketing about the event - just nothing or very little from the brand partners themselves to actually exploit their association with it.

There are also lots of sub-events for kids and families and shorter runs around it and in the lead up to it but they are all from the organizers not the partners.

Standard Chartered (SC) for example are the main sponsor but you wouldn’t know it from their home page, their store fronts and even their bills/edms and general mailings. There is not a mention about the marathon and how it benefits the customers or what kind of associated offers customers get as a result of SC sponsoring it. There is also nothing on their social media page but they have created a special FB page but it only has 9,700 likes compared to the 70,000 people entering. But that’s it! SC at least have heritage here having done it before and having sponsored both Hong Kong and Malaysian marathons but why bother if they won’t use to market their brand and services?

Local energy drink 100Plus is another sponsor but there is no on-pack promotion nor in-store promotion to accentuate this. It’s such a missed opportunity, why aren’t they marketing it hard to enhance the positive association? There is not even a mention on their website or Facebook pages.

BMW are one of the principal sponsors but why? They are the opposite of running and yes it’s a blue chip event but they are not mentioning the association on their website, Facebook or at their retail outlets. Why bother sponsoring it if you’re not going to exploit the association?

StarHub are also a sponsor but again nothing on website, edms, bills, retail outlets, Facebook….nothing at all! Surely they’re not doing it just for the poster marketing and to shut out rival Singtel?

Canon are the official imaging brand, Seiko the official time partner, Giant the official hypermarket, Tiger Balm Active the official muscle rub, Nature Valley the official snack, Pure Fitness the official fitness partner, Asics are the official apparel and none of them are really marketing this on line, in store or in the media let alone social media and how hard is it to run something on Facebook?

Even the official marathon website only has three offers from partners from Pure Fitness, Asics, and Conrad Hotels….where are the rest? Why no other partner offers? Why didn’t all runners get a gift pack with offers, added value and marketing materials linked directly to the marathon’s partners and reasons why the brands are sponsoring it?

Compare this with the New York Marathon where the sponsors like Subway, ING and Dunkin Doughnuts are falling over themselves to exploit their partnerships by producing special products, running promotions on-pack, in-store and online and all trying to be first in the customers mind as being the best partner with the marathon.

The same happened with the London Marathon where brands like Flora have consistently run on-pack promotions to exploit the association with the race and now Virgin Money, who are current sponsors, maximize the marketing around the event to accentuate the sponsorship and exploit it for all its worth.

The race here starts at 5am (as with all racing events here due to the tropical humidity and sunshine of Singapore) and everything is finished at 10am which means that all the partners have to make the association work even harder before and after the event, rather than during it (as there won’t be many people up at 6am cheering contestants along the road).

However none of them are. It almost looks like they are half-heartedly sponsoring the event but don’t really want to get behind it and go out with a marketing blitz claiming their positive association and exploiting the tie up.

Such a great event. So many brand partners. So many missed opportunities.

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