Virgin Money is on to a winner with Marathon

Nearly 60% of respondents to marketingweek.co.uk’s recent online poll think Virgin Money’s investment in the London Marathon is a good use of marketing funds.

Flora’s 14-year-old sponsorship of the annual event came to an end on 26 April. Virgin Group signed a 17m deal for a five-year contract in spring last year before the economic downturn accelerated.

Virgin Group will initially use the sponsorship to promote the Virgin Money brand.

Since the recession began sponsorship has come to be seen in some quarters as no longer value for money. Several brands, particularly in the financial sector, have retreated from sponsorship and the accompanying displays of ostentatious corporate hospitality that come with such packages. Nearly 33% of the online poll say they do not think Virgin Money has made a wise investment in the London Marathon.

However, the Marathon is much more of a publicly-involved event than professionally-played sports events. An estimated 35,000 runners take part, and it places the public firmly in the “hero” spotlight with its links to charity fundraising.

Virgin has always shown acumen in leveraging its partnerships, for instance Virgin Airlines’ involvement in recent James Bond films. If Virgin Money does eventually emerge as owner of troubled mortgage lender Northern Rock then the Marathon could prove a valuable springboard for a brand relaunch.

Do you think Virgin Money’s sponsorship of the London Marathon is a good investment of marketing funds?

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