The London Marathon, which takes place on Sunday, has a new sponsor and for the first time it’s not a mainstream brand. Michelle Taylor, head of sports sponsorships for Tata Consultancy Services, told E&T editor Dickon Ross that the deal was not just about the title brand.
Dickon Ross: For those who may not already know, what is TCS?
Michael Taylor: TCS is a global IT services and consulting company. So we essentially work with our customers around the world to use technology to innovate and improve the way they work and transform their businesses.
DR: What is sponsorship, other than putting your name in the title?
MT: This weekend you’ll see the city painted pink, black and white – which is exciting. But the real reason we embarked on this project is to build relationships and showcase innovation. The running app that allows spectators to connect with their runners is one of the main ways we do this. This app was a game changer in endurance running, especially around the London Marathon. When we were partners in 2020 and the pandemic turned everyone’s lives upside down, we were able to use our contextual knowledge and tech expertise to reimagine what the Marathon looked like and introduce the Virtual London Marathon which still exists today. today. Now we have what we call a hybrid app where we allow runners from all over the world to participate in the TCS London Marathon this year as well as participants who will join the field here in London. Technology keeps everyone connected and also creates a more inclusive experience. Previously, people who lived in other places who did not have the means or ability to travel to London could not participate. Now, we’re excited to be able to be more inclusive by allowing both virtual and local participation here as well.
This year moving to title partner London, the other thing we’re doing with them is some of the back-end data analysis – which most people don’t see – and it really helps them capturing data and analyzing it to really help give riders and their customers more targeted information and more targeted support. We’re also excited about this work, even if it’s not so forward-looking. For all companies, data collection, analysis and use are certainly essential.
DR: Previous London Marathon sponsors have been consumer-facing companies, so it’s not really obvious. Why is it good for TCS?
MT: I love this question because there is so much TCS heart that goes into this partnership and sponsorship. Sponsorship comes from a genuine place of belief in community and innovation. These are all core values that we hold dear in terms of inclusiveness, sustainability and again, innovation which align with the core values of the London Marathon events. We have been partners of the London Marathon since 2016. We have been investing in endurance running since 2008. For us, the running platform is really an opportunity to connect with people and communities. We really use it to build relationships with our customers, but also with the communities where we work and live. We love that we can inspire healthy choices – running certainly does. Many of our employees, just like many of your readers, probably spend a lot of time in front of their computers every day, so running is really helpful in getting people moving, out in nature, which is good for our minds and bodies. . It’s a good platform to drive innovation and it’s an opportunity to show what we are capable of in terms of improving experiences and transforming industries.
DR: Who are you trying to reach with this sponsorship? Who are your potential customers to whom you are trying to make yourself known?
MT: Our target audience is usually senior executives and that usually matches the demographics of a marathon runner pretty well. So we certainly welcome a lot of our customers into the event, invite them to buy paid rides with us, and there’s just a wonderful amount of relationships that go into that. The marathon experience lasts more than a day. It takes months of training to get there and it’s really exciting to see our customer partners engaging with their customers, talking about running, sometimes even meeting up to shop together. So it’s really a platform that’s been great for us in terms of building relationships. Even beyond that, there are lots of great stories we can tell about what we do around the TCS London Marathon that help us show the power of technology to our customers, perhaps non-runners. . Maybe they’re not runners, but they see how the running app connects people around the world around running. They look at this and think “Wow, if TCS can reinvent management, what can they do for my business?”
DR: Is the new golf running?
MT: Yes. We have recently believed in it. The commitment period is the same: when you play 18 holes of golf, it’s about four hours or maybe a little more; running a marathon takes at least four hours on average. The difference is that with the marathon you have about six months of training devoted to it as well. The wonderful thing about the marathon and the running community is that they love to talk about it, they love to analyze their running data, they love to train with each other. He really is a community builder and we love that. We like to make our employees active and we like to share that with our customers in the communities where we work. It’s a great way to open a meeting. If people aren’t marathon runners themselves, they know a friend or family member who is. When you participate in a marathon, it is a transformative experience. You can’t be a marathon runner without it impacting you. It changes you physically. It changes you mentally and it’s part of who you are. So it’s an excellent conversation starter, an excellent way to connect with people. Everyone has a story to tell. At TCS, we tend to tell a lot of stories about technology, but when you can also connect it to the human spirit, if you can help someone cross that finish line, then there’s something very powerful there.
DR: The London Marathon aims to be net zero by 2024. Are you involved in this?
MT: TCS has been working with the Council for Responsible Sport for a few years now. We helped them digitize their event certification and event support process to meet global sustainability standards. You do it by measuring and tracking and all that kind of stuff. We created an app for them that allows organizations around the world to track their progress towards sustainability standards. We have also worked with London Marathon Events and they are currently going through the process with the Council for Responsible Sport to get certified and measure themselves, to track their progress and become more responsible. They are already doing a great job, but there is always room to do better. The biggest carbon impact for most events is travel. Adding hybrid functionality to the app means people can participate virtually or in person, helping to not only create a more inclusive event but also more sustainable as fewer people have to travel.
Previous London Marathon title sponsors and their starting years
2010 Virgin Silver
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