Brand-building Abbott runs up marathon sponsorship total

The BMW Berlin-Marathon--Courtesy of KJohansson

Abbott ($ABT), already the title sponsor of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, recently added another running sponsorship to its ever-expanding portfolio.

It's now an official local sponsor of the BMW Berlin-Marathon, which along with already announced local deals with the B.A.A. Boston Marathon and Bank of America Chicago Marathon makes it a local sponsor of three of the 6 races in the Majors series. Abbott became the first title sponsor of the 8-year-old World Marathon series in October.

As company spokeswoman Kathryn McKenzie told FiercePharmaMarketing via email, the global marathon marketing strategy is to link the Abbott name to the iconic series, which also provides it with "unique branding and marketing activities" around the world. At the Berlin race, for instance, the strategy is a more direct digital and physical presence. Emails and social media interaction with participants, branded course signs and a dedicated "Abbott Cheer Zone" staffed with 100 Abbott employees will put a local spin on sponsorship. 30 Abbott employees from around the world will also run in the September race.

"The overarching objectives of Abbott's sponsorship of the Abbott World Marathon Majors and the Berlin-Marathon are the same: to provide a platform for Abbott to demonstrate how we help people around the globe achieve their goals through better health," McKenzie wrote. "The partnership is also an important building block for Abbott as we build our corporate identity around the world," she said.

Former Abbott Chief Marketing Officer Paul Magill

That identity includes a new brand line--"Life. To the Fullest."--unveiled late last year with an umbrella marketing strategy meant to build brand recognition of the parent company. As then-Chief Marketing Officer Paul Magill told The Wall Street Journal last December, "branding is an investment in growth," and the company is hoping its efforts at crafting a favorable public image will show up on its top line. Other pharma companies have had the same idea lately: Abbott joins other pharmas including Pfizer ($PFE), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Eli Lilly ($LLY) that are taking up marketing efforts to boost corporate branding.

- read the release
- read the WSJ article