Asics sponsored the New City Marathon for the fifteenth consecutive year, but last year it expanded its reach with a multichannel campaign leading up to and during the race. The brand created the Support Your Marathoner microsite, on which each runner could register with their marathon registration number and be given a “virtual cheering section” for friends and family to submit photos, videos and text messages of support. During the race, messages for each runner were displayed on a screen as he or she passed a certain marker.
As of today 3,747 photos have been posted on Instagram with the hashtag #betteryourbest, all aggregated on the microsite. In its “Run With Ryan” campaign, Asics set up treadmills in various New York City locations. The treadmills would only operate at the average speed of Olympian and Asics-sponsored marathoner Ryan Hall. Volunteers were videotaped as they tried to keep up and failed after just a few minutes. The initial treadmill challenge YouTube video accumulated more than 198,000 views and became the most popular Asics video of 2013.
Marathon sponsorships seem to pay off, judging by how brands that obtain the title rarely abandon it. (Adidas has sponsored the Boston Marathon for 23 years.) This year Asics set the standard for how to maximize publicity around the event sponsorship, an effort featured as a Flash of Genius is our 2014 Digital IQ Index: Sportswear report.