Flora combined all the right ingredients to launch and exploit its
sponsorship of the London Marathon, says Karen Earl of sponsorship
marketing consultancy Karen Earl Limited
It always helps if you can say that something is the biggest ever. In
Flora’s case it was the pounds 6 million ‘biggest ever’ sponsorship in
the 16-year history of the London Marathon. And fighting off 13 other
companies to snatch the title sponsorship of one of the most attractive
sponsorships in the sporting calender was a coup in itself.
What Flora has in its favour that previous sponsors lacked is a good fit
- two products which conjure up similar associations, in this case
active and healthy lifestyles. The glitzy launch of the deal had the Red
Devils falling out of the sky above Greenwich Park way back in August.
It was a launch which said ‘we’re new; we’re different; we’re serious
and we’re going to make it work.’
And they did. Who could fail to notice the combination of pre-publicity,
TV advertising and on-pack promotions in the run-up to the event?
The full title of the event (including the Flora name) was used in every
bit of pre- and post-event coverage that I saw - not bad for a first-
time sponsor of a well-loved event. Links with print and broadcast media
meant that every inch of the run was covered by Capital Radio and the
exclusive results service run in the Times was heavily branded with
Flora London Marathon logos.
As for the Marathon itself, with record temperatures and Liz McColgan as
a dream winner, column inches were just waiting to happen.
An event like the Flora London Marathon relies on pictures to get its
sponsor’s name across - and although the branding was very good on the
runners’ bibs, finishing line and foil heat wraps, the Flora banners
were sometimes lost on the TV coverage of the event.
Co-sponsors Isotar and Aqua Pura had ‘can’t fail to notice me’ banners
especially noticeable at the start line, while Flora’s as title sponsor
really could have done with being bigger.
What Flora needs now is to make a long-term commitment to the London
Marathon to make its sponsorship work really well - three years isn’t
necessarily enough. But what it also needs to watch out for is the
public perception of two tried-and-tested products jogging gently into
old age together.
I hope they manage to keep it fresh and exciting -it’s a great