Many New Yorkers look forward to the first Sunday in November, the day of the annual TCS New York City Marathon, much like kids anticipate Christmas morning. From Staten Island to the Bronx, swaths of streets are closed and crowds gather on the sidewalk to watch friends, family, or strangers run 42 km through town.
This year this first Sunday will of course be a little different. The marathon is canceled, at least in its official capacity. While a virtual option keeps some of the racing spirit alive, it will be difficult to capture all of its magic without the crowd and shared energy of the runners.
With this in mind, a new campaign from Tata Consultancy Services, the Mumbai-based information technology services and consulting firm that sponsors the marathon in New York City and other countries around the world, including London, Amsterdam, Chicago and Boston, is watching this energy remember.
“The spirit of running is still very relevant, especially in this day and age,” said Rajashree R, CMO of TCS. “We felt this had to be a campaign that brought the whole spirit of running together.”
The campaign, titled #TheRun, celebrates the resilience of runners and highlights TCS technical tools that runners can use to track their progress in their virtual races. In particular, these apps allow runners to recreate part of the atmosphere of the race day by playing sounds like the cannon launch or cheering crowds as well as an augmented reality medal ceremony. It also allows for a community experience to be replicated across the apps to connect runners around the world while delivering a more local experience in every single app.
“We treated all these events separately, as you know,” she added. “We felt that there was a unified community and a unified spirit that needed to bring all of these runner and marathon traits together. We can take a very global position. At the same time, we can make it look very personal for a particular marathon property around the world. “
It’s a fitting campaign for a brand that has gone to great lengths to join not only the world’s best marathons but also the culture of running. So much of what goes into running marathons – the hope, the excitement, the perseverance – are the values that TCS wanted people to reflect.
“Running marathons, it really is human potential at its best,” she said. “We love this idea and the association it has given our brand.”
The TCS marathon sponsorship will look very different in 2020. Still, the amount of advertising and marketing spend is “somewhat on par” with the amount the company allocated to marathon activations last year, said Michelle Taylor, director of global sports sponsorship at TCS. The idea behind creating an all-digital global campaign this year “really helped TCS strengthen our brand message and also achieve financial efficiency,” as opposed to local campaigns designed for every race and market, she added.
In this year’s campaign, the same base video was used in promotional materials for the TCS New York City Marathon, TCS Amsterdam and the Virgin Money London Marathon, with each video being slightly adjusted to show each city. Since individual teams didn’t have to spend on creating separate campaigns, more dollars could be spent promoting the campaign in their markets or creating additional materials.
Even after people get back on the streets on the first Sunday in November, Taylor said tech tools like TCS’s apps will continue to play an important role, not just for athletes but corporate sponsors as well.