In 2015 the Amsterdam Marathon will celebrate its 40th edition, consolidating its sponsorship with TCS, a company that promotes its motto and philosophy through this event: to contribute to wellbeing, health and social commitment through sport
The health of a marriage is not measured by how long it has lasted, but the values, objectives and activities that the couple share. And the union formed by the Amsterdam Marathon and its main sponsor, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), is in very good health. They came together in 2011 for questions of health, and have just renewed their commitment for five more years.
There are many reasons why a city like Amsterdam decides to organize one of the most popular marathons worldwide. Richard Denton, sports marketing expert and professor at the Johan Cruyff Institute, reveals the reasons and objectives pursued in the short and long term. “The organization of a top quality event like the TCS Amsterdam Marathon is not only important for the sporting heritage of the city, but also for the international marketing and tourism generated for the local economy. In 2014 this was measured at almost 16 million euros from direct and indirect expenditure in the city by participants and visitors”.
The Amsterdam Marathon is celebrating its 40th edition this year and on Sunday October 18, the runners gathering at the starting line will mark a new world record in the history of this distance: 45,000 marathoners from 105 different countries will come together in Amsterdam to measure themselves against the clock. Never before has this figure been reached. The event organizer, Le Champion, is pleasantly surprised that international interest in this event continues to grow. They have exhausted all the numbers of all the distances: the marathon, the Mizuno half marathon and the TCS 8 kilometer.
“The city of Amsterdam is very proactive in hosting international sports events that promote a healthy living and working agenda, especially aimed at children and people who need to be motivated to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Running is a sport for everyone and in the Amsterdam Marathon, even the youngest runners are catered for at the event with a ‘Kids Run’, a race for children that also finishes in the Olympic Stadium, where all the other races finish”.
Le Champion is, as organizer of the event, responsible for attracting sponsors and, in this case, that Amsterdam and TCS ended up coming together was only a matter of time. Tata Consultancy Services joined the Amsterdam Marathon in 2011 (and has extended its contract until 2020). The ING Bank was the previous sponsor, but sought other markets after 2008 and the event was left without sponsorship in 2009 and 2010, coinciding with the global financial crisis. Richard Denton notes that “when a respected organization like TCS extends their sponsorship for another five years, this provides stability for the organizers and attracts new partners. We can predict that the TCS Amsterdam Marathon has a bright future, as long as the key sponsors remain committed”.
There is nothing to suggest that TCS will switch to a medium-term sponsorship policy if we analyze the values that it aims to promote with this event. “Noting the increasing health problems that arise from sedentary lifestyles and stress, Tata Consultancy Services has developed a global emphasis on fitness, backing running programs and marathons to promote wellness and community development through sports”, says the company. TCS has partnerships with seven of the world’s leading races including title sponsorships of the TCS Amsterdam Marathon, the TCS New York City Marathon and the TCS World 10km Bengaluru.
“Giving back to the communities in which we operate is central to our philosophy and forms the core of our partnerships. Over the last five years, our employees and over 30 client organizations have joined forces to raise over $550,000 for charitable causes such as cancer research and elder care. TCS has won several corporate engagement and CSR awards in recognition of these initiatives.”
The company is committed to bringing in new technology to the sport of running, developing the official event app for the majority of the races they partner with. “This app allows families and supporters to track the progress of runners on a real-time basis among other feature”.
At TCS, they believe in their motto and set an example with their philosophy: “Healthy individuals make healthy organizations”. And they encourage everyone to contribute to the cause. Through their ‘Fit4Life’ running program, for every kilometer and every hour of fitness an employee logs, TCS makes a donation to charity. “In 2014, over six million kilometers (equivalent to 150 laps around the earth), were logged”, they say with pride.
Returning to the reason for their presence in the Amsterdam Marathon, the ease with which they can activate the sponsorship is very important. “For a sponsor like TCS, the ability to invite employees and customers to participate in one of the distances (8 km, 21km or 42km) is a key attraction. Raising funds for charity is important for most sponsors today who wish to promote a socially responsible image”, says Richard Denton. For the other sponsors of the event, the objectives are different. “For retail brands such as Mizuno, for example, the event provides a platform to market their latest products and generate exposure and engagement amongst a key target group. In this respect, the EXPO which is a three day side event hosted in a sport hall close to the Olympic Stadium, is one of the main attractions for suppliers of running products, services and apparel”. The runners have to pass through the EXPO to pick up their numbers, and the exhibition can attract over 100,000 visitors, so that’s where most activations and promotions take place.
Betting on health and acting in solidarity are good enough reasons to believe that it will be many years before the TSC Amsterdam Marathon changes its name. Richard Denton adds another reason: “In most cases, there is a sense of partnership and pride being associated with one of the biggest and longest standing sports events in the Netherlands. Most sponsors are seeking a return on investment, which forms the basis of any contractual agreement, but when you review the list of sponsors and you see that many of them have been there for years, it is a clear reflection of the added value that this partnership generates for them”.
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