I meant to get this up a long time ago.. Initially I'd thought I have this long, thoughtful bit written that was fair and objective, but it is the blogosphere we're in so I won't worry about that.
The fact is I've been complaining, ranting, etc. over the last couple of years about the strange partnerships (re Event Sponsorship) the inappropriate licensed and IM branded products that have the been the result of their marketing strategy.
Let me first get this out of the way before some comments are posted: Yes, I know IM-branded races sell out in minutes in North America, this is separate and distinct from the marketing strategy, for the most part.
At any rate, as a general rule corporate partnerships (in this case, event sponsors) and opportunities to license your brand to partners to sell product(s) should align with your brand image.
Ironman races are perceived as a premium offering (and have a premium price point), and generally deliver that level of service.
There a variety of things I rant about, here they are in no particular order:
- There isn't much consistency in who sponsors events.
Here's a quick sampling of the industry breadth represented: financial services, automobile manufacturers, Home Appliances (e.g. durable goods), and value-priced eye ware.
-The brand is using confusing labels and diluting the experience: Everyone knows what an Ironman is, folks used to call a shorter version of that a "Half Ironman".
WTC wanted to uniquely brand those shorter events so that only they could use the Ironman label. They are producing Half Ironmans as "70.3" (a full IM is 140.6 miles) events. There are so many "70.3" events on offer it removes any air of special-ness for the competitor.
-The products that are leveraging the Ironman brand under licensing deals sometimes have little relation to the sport, or are entirely inappropriate for the demographic that the brand appeals to given the premium price point/experience.
For example, if you're interested you can buy a premium priced "T2 mattress" from the Ironman store. There are also Ironman-branded value-priced sunglasses offered in the Kroger chain of stores near the checkouts and battery displays. The list of strange product offerings goes on.
Up next... some recommendations about what WTC can do.