We’ll leave it to the legislators and bloggers to tell you why Mayor Michael “I never consult with anyone before making a ruling” Bloomberg’s decision to proceed with the NYC Marathon this weekend is beyond the pale.
This is, of course, the same guy who told New Yorkers to “get up and put on your galoshes” in the sub-freezing temperatures one morning in February, 2007, and go outside and shovel your car out of its parking space (from two feet of sheer ice) or get a ticket...and do it before 9:30 AM, by the way.
Instead, we’ll focus on the sponsors of this travesty. Were they consulted? Have any of them checked their conscience and dropped out? Have they gone public with any explanations for moving forward, with press releases or via social media?
We took a look at the race’s “Principal” sponsors. Here is the list as of 1 PM Friday.
> ASICS: no press release, no explanation on Twitter or Facebook
> United Airlines: same as ASICS = nothing
> Foot Locker: nothing
> Nissan: nothing
> Timex: nothing
> Tata Consultancy: nothing, other than an ill-timed press release YESTERDAY, also posted on Twitter and Facebook, heralding its marathon sponsorship
> The New York Times: nothing
What’s especially odd about The Times is that it has run several articles about the blowback on Bloomberg’s decision – yet nowhere does The Times place a fair disclosure statement in any article that it is a sponsor of the race. We’ve reached out to the newspaper's new public editor for her assessment.
And, lest we forget, the major sponsor, ING. It cannot, of course, back down, and its posts are full of joy about the upcoming race. Except for this: “This year’s NYC Marathon is dedicated to the City of New York, the victims of the hurricane, and their families.”
This wins “the most insincere statement of 2012” award.
[UPDATE: Friday 5:28 PM - The New York Times (again without making reference to its sponsorship !!!) has just published a short article stating that the NYC Marathon has been postponed and/or canceled. This does not let the sponsors referenced in this post off the hook - all they did was dodge a bullet, by standing still.]
The Facebook pages of most of these companies are taking a pounding from people demanding, as we do, that each rescind its sponsorship. Not a single company’s “Tweeter-person” has responded. How’s that for social media – you know, all that guaranteed transparency and authenticity bullsh&t we hear about every day in the marketing trades?
By Sunday evening, the marathon will be over, and the selfish runners can “get on with their lives” (another great Bloomberg mantra). But the Principal Sponsors, as well as the “Signature and Supporting Sponsors” (link here for full list), won’t be so lucky.
Because managing brand reputation is a different kind of marathon. It runs all year long. And the spectators aren’t always on your side.