The Right Choice for the New York City Marathon

The 2013 New York City Marathon women's winner, Priscah Jeptoo.

Earlier this month, New York City celebrated its 43rd marathon. For the last ten years, ING has been the lead sponsor of the competition, formerly known as the ING New York City Marathon. Starting in 2014, Tata Consultancy Services, TCS, will replace ING as the lead sponsor and the marathon will now be know as the TCS New York City Marathon. Their contract provides for an eight-year partnership.

Tata Consultancy Services is the IT branch of Tata Ltd., the Indian conglomerate. TCS attributes itself as one of the “top 10 technology firms in the world.” The company employs 277,000 consultants and produced $11.6 billion in revenue for the 2012 fiscal year. It is Asia’s largest exporter of computer-services. The foremost difference between ING and TCS is ING sells its products to individual consumers, while TCS targets corporations. ING has thousands of customers, while TCS focuses on a select number of firms.

When companies like ING sponsor athletic events they have the opportunity to capture thousands of new customers. This is not so with a company like TCS.

This begs the question: why would TCS want to sponsor the New York City Marathon?

The new NYC Marathon Logo

In its announcement statement TCS said, “

The new global partnership -- fueled by movement and empowered by technology -- is built on a shared commitment to elevating the health and well-being of individuals and embodies TCS's historical dedication to strongly supporting the communities in which it operates. The spark of this joint "movement" starts today in New York City, driven by TCS's digital, financial, strategic, and marketing support of NYRR events and programs, most notably a goal to make the New York City Marathon the most technologically advanced and socially engaged marathon in the world.”

TCS CEO,

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, has said of the sponsorship, “

Wellness, fitness, education; these are the types of initiatives we actively promote in the communities. It helps us to bring the talent that we have to leverage in the work we do in communities, and it helps us to energize our workforce.”

In addition to the New York City Marathon, TCS is also the title sponsor of the Amsterdam Marathon and offers its technology services to the Boston, Chicago and Berlin marathons and the New York City Half-Marathon. For both the New York City Half-Marathon and the recent Marathon, TCS developed a mobile app to help track runners and record results.

Many are questioning TCS’s sponsorship decision. Analysts feel TCS has gotten lost in the hype surrounding the athletic event. This decision will leave shareholders bemused and dissatisfied, with no clear benefits to TCS. With this venture, TCS will waste money and resources, all the while procuring very few new customers.

Written by: Lynn Bernabei