Dutch Company Getting Its Name Out There With Marathon
Written by Eric Kalis on June 28, 2007
By Eric Kalis
The ING Miami Marathon is more than an annual weekend of running, marathon organizers say — the event has allowed one of the world’s largest financial institutions to establish a presence in Miami-Dade County.
Marathon officials inked Dutch asset-management company ING in 2006 to sponsor the three-day event that includes a half-marathon, a 5K race and a health and fitness expo at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
To ING officials, the marathon is a way for the company to tap into the county’s marketplace, said race director Frankie Ruiz.
"Having ING as our sponsor was a huge coup for us," Mr. Ruiz said. "They are the ninth-largest company in the world, and they used us to get into Miami."
ING will be the official marathon sponsor until at least 2010, Mr. Ruiz said. The partnership is paying dividends locally, he said — according to an online survey conducted by ING, 33% of county residents recognize the company’s brand and 66% know about the marathon. Company officials held onsite meetings with employees and prospective customers throughout the event in January, Mr. Ruiz said.
"Before the marathon, no one locally knew who ING is," Mr. Ruiz said. "After a year in the market, many bus stops and cabs now have ING banners."
Bringing ING on board helped boost the event’s economic impact on the county, according to a study conducted by the Sport Tourism Event Research Network. The study, based on an online survey of participants that drew 3,396 responses, indicates the event generated about $15.8 million.
In five years, the marathon’s participation has increased from 4,400 runners to nearly 12,000, said marketing director Danny Elfenbein. The race here competes with several events on the West Coast that take place during the winter, Mr. Elfenbein said. But event organizers do not go head-to-head with the Disney Marathon, which takes place in Orlando three weeks before the Miami event, he said. Many local runners tend to enter both marathons, Mr. Elfenbein said.
The long-term goal of marathon officials is for Miami’s event to be comparable with the New York City Marathon, which generates about $200 million each year, Mr. Elfenbein said. New York’s race "gets 40,000 runners every year but has been around for 28 years. Miami is in the same realm as other major cities but is still in a growth stage. There is strong potential for [the Miami marathon] to reach 25,000 runners in five to seven years, so just imagine where it could be after 28 years."