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The NYC Marathon Bag Debacle
By: Janet Kalandranis
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It’s big news in the running world and even bigger news in the marketing world. It’s the coveted marathon, 26.2 miles through the five boroughs. To enter, you must qualify or be chosen through a lottery process. This little ING NYC Marathon brand is nothing to joke about; it spent years building from a smaller event to something that now many runners dream to do. Then the brand made a mistake.

This past Thursday, the 40,000 runners received an email from the ING NYC Marathon stating that there would be no bag drop at this year’s event. Seems innocent enough and something that could have rolled past 40,000. That is, of course, if these 40,000 people weren’t runners and weren’t the core audience of the product. The customers weren’t quiet — they took to social media and the web and went back to the brand to let it know what they thought. They reiterated loud and clear that this was a big mistake.

The ING NYC Marathon made a brand “no-no.” Apparently the brand consulted some supporting organizations privately back in January and came to a decision. That’s right; a decision without actually contacting the customer or being transparent with the move. In a world where information is readily available and accessible and customers are up-to-date on things that interest them, brands can’t simply change the rules of a game without initial notice. Customers are looking for brands to be transparent and also consult and collaborate with them in order to make important brand decisions, especially those that affect the way a product/service has been delivered in the past. There’s an expectation from a customer and if that is going to change, brands need to inform customers in a not-so-drastic way.

The guess is that the ING NYC Marathon brand assumed that the world is still top-down; that brand decisions are still left up to the brand and the customer simply deals with what was given. Brands need to be smarter than this and more connected to their communities. It’s about making changes together and creating stronger brands with lasting relationships with the customer.


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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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