The L.A. Marathon’s 30th anniversary race isn't until March 15, but sponsors are getting on board now. Whether or not it breaks a record field of racers (25,000 was the record, in 2010), the race will likely see a record field of partners, if the organizers succeed.
The race organization hired Mark Scoggins this year as VP of business development. Scoggins -- former chief revenue officer for the National Basketball Retired Players Association -- has deep experience in basketball, having worked his way up the L.A. Lakers corporate ladder from humble beginnings as a peanut vendor. He was also president of business development for Magic Johnson Enterprises.
Tracey Russell, CEO of the L.A. Marathon, tells Marketing Daily that the race is looking to boost its partnership roster with Scoggins’ help. "Grabbing someone from another industry is helping us to activate and develop relationships differently, because he has tremendous experience. So we are bringing someone in who is pushing us to look at partnerships differently. We definitely are interested in partnering with companies who want to leverage the relationship with the race to benefit all themselves, the marathon and the participants. We want more than just a logo at the start and finish."
The sponsorship for the L.A. Marathon is multi-tiered, including media. Asics has title sponsorship, and media partners are KCLA and NBC Universal Sports Network. Both Clif and Michelob Ultra are partners, but most, like Keck Medicine of USC, are regional. Russell says the fan and participant base tend to be an affluent, diverse demographic: 44% are Caucasian, 30% Hispanic and 15% Asians, and 5% African-American.
Last year, according to Running U.S.A.'s annual report, the Asics L.A. Marathon was number six in terms of the number of finishers, after the ING New York, Bank of America Chicago, Marine Corp D.C., Honolulu, and Walt Disney World. Surprisingly, Boston had fewer finishers, at 17,600, according to the report. Globally, the L.A. marathon was number 11 last year, just after the Walt Disney World marathon. But the rankings change every year. For example, in 2012, when Honda was title sponsor of the L.A. Marathon, the race was number five after Boston.
Russell says sponsors also have an opportunity to reach running influencers through the marathon training program under the aegis of the L.A. Road Runners. "About 1,000 runners meet weekly at Venice Beach on the strand for training runs, so it's a great engagement for a partner who wants that weekly face time, and it’s with people who are truly ambassadors."
In 2016, the race is happening the same week as the Olympic trials. "For us, it is going to be the biggest running week since inaugural marathon, so for us it's a great opportunity for partners."