By Barry Janoff
October 11, 2014: A search that had been eight years in the making finally came to fruition when global health care company Abbott signed a deal to become the first title sponsor for the World Marathon Majors.
WMM is a joint effort launched in 2006 that encompasses six of the world's top competitions: the Boston Marathon (with principle sponsor John Hancock), Tokyo Marathon, Virgin Money London, BMW Berlin, Bank of America Chicago and TCS New York City Marathon.
Title sponsorship of the renamed Abbott World Marathon Majors begins in 2015.
Financial terms of the deal were not shared.
Abbott said it would support the global alliance with its new brand line – "Life. To the Fullest" – as part of marketing, communications and branding efforts around each of the races, which is intended to "demonstrate and bring to life its core mission of helping people unlock all that life has to offer through the power of health.
Beginning in 2015, Abbott said race activation at each event would include pre-race expo presence, Abbott employee engagement (such as dedicated on-course cheer zones) and event and on-course signage.
The unveiling of the alliance coincided with the running of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday (Oct. 12). The Abbott Park, Ill.-based firm already is a sponsor of the competition, including title sponsor of the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo.
The last event for the 2014 WMM calendar year is the TCS New York Marathon, scheduled for Nov. 2.
The deal was unveiled in Chicago during a media event attended by Abbott executives and race directors from all six WMM events: (pictured, above, left to right) Tad Hayano/Tokyo, Tom Grilk/Boston, Nick Bitel/London, Abbott svp/CMO Paul Magill, Mark Milde/Berlin, Carey Pinkowski/Chicago and Mary Wittenberg/NY.)
"Abbott has always been about delivering the enabling power of health so that people — in all places, aspects and stages of life — can achieve more and live not just longer but better," Abbott's Magill said during the sponsorship announcement event. "Whether you're stepping out to walk or run your first mile or training to complete a marathon, good health is the starting point for accomplishing your best. This partnership is an important building block for us as we build our corporate identity around the world."
According to Pinkowski of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, "As the global leader in elite and mass participation marathons, the World Marathon Majors shows how people — wherever they're from in the world — are capable of doing amazing things when they're at their healthiest. As a company that helps people around the globe achieve their goals through better health, Abbott is a natural fit as the first ever title sponsor of the World Marathon Majors."
At the conclusion of each two-year cycle, WMM offers a $1 million prize purse to be divided equally between the top male and female marathoners in the world. The WMM's eighth two-year series,began with the Tokyo Marathon on February 24, 2013 and will conclude at the TCS New York City Marathon in November.
In corresponding years in which they are run, WMM also acts as qualifying races for the IAAF World Championships and Olympic Marathons.
2015 schedule for the Abbott World Marathon Majors:
• Tokyo Marathon Feb. 22
• Boston Marathon April 20
• Virgin Money London Marathon April 26
• Berlin Marathon Sept. 27
• Bank of America Chicago Marathon Oct. 11
• TCS New York Marathon Nov. 1
TCS Takes Lead Role For NYC Marathon
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