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Why event sponsorships give tech giants bang for their bucks

John Webster | Nov. 17, 2015
While the marketing benefits may seem obvious, there are plenty of other benefits to sponsoring large, nontech events.

According to Ken Ryals, senior director, citizenship & public affairs at Microsoft, its We Day sponsorship is part of an overall commitment introduce students to social issues through technology. 

"We actually wouldn’t have sponsored We Day as just an event. Rather we were excited by the holistic approach where kids earn their way into We Day through participating in a year-long, in-school program where they learn about various social causes, and then take action to address them. This was fully aligned with our mission to empower kids and provided a natural opportunity for us to partner in a way to enhance the program’s social impact through technology," he says. 

Microsoft's website describes YouthSpark as a global initiative to increase access to learning computer science. Ryals points to the most recent YouthSpark initiative, announced on September 16th. It includes committing $75 million over the next three years to increase access to computer science education. Nonprofit organizations worldwide will receive cash donations and other resources to provide computer science education. 

We Day began as a single event eight years ago, and it has since grown to a series of 14 stadium-sized events in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. All told, 200,000 students attended We Day. Instead of buying tickets, students earn them by taking one local and one global action through Free the Children's We Schools program. Activities range from collecting food for homeless shelters to raising money to build classrooms overseas. 

NYC Marathon
Sponsor: Tata Consultancy Services

Corporate sponsors of the big-name marathons tend to be banks and financial institutions. Bank of America sponsors the Chicago Marathon, John Hancock sponsors the Boston Marathon, and beginning in 2003, ING sponsored the New York City Marathon. But in 2014, a tech company became the event's title sponsor when Tata Consultancy Services, a $15.5 billion company owned by the Tata group, India's largest corporation, threw its hat in the ring. TCS offers IT consulting for security and risk management, IT infrastructure, supply chain management, business intelligence and performance management, and other services. The race is now officially called the TCS New York City Marathon.

According to TCS, marathons offer an attractive sponsorship venue because they're inclusive.

"We've found that endurance running, especially marathons, gives us a great opportunity to connect with the local communities where these events are held, and where TCS has notable operations and client partnerships. Marathons are one of the few sporting events where everyone can participate in the same race as world-class, elite athletes. This draws not only participants, but spectators -- friends, family, business associates, local communities, and others rooting for those participating. TCS is deeply focused on giving back to the communities where it works and lives, and marathons provide a great platform for raising funds and awareness for worthy causes, such as health and fitness, which provides immense positive impact into such communities," says Benjamin Trounson, head of North American communications.


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