If you’ve ever lived in the Boston area, you know the profound impact that Marathon Monday has over the region. Never lived in Boston? The Boston Marathon falls every year on Patriots’ Day, which is the third Monday in April. Since it’s a state holiday, many people saddle up along the marathon route to cheer on runners making their 26.2-mile trek over Heartbreak Hill which culminates on Boylston Street in the heart of the city.
Unfortunately, the Boston Marathon and its reputation have been marred following the 2013 explosions towards the finish line of the marathon. In many ways, the marathon has needed to undergo a rebranding to symbolize the future of the race.
Immediately following the Boston Bombings, Boston rallied around the phrase “Boston Strong.” Beginning as a cry to solidarity for the victims, outside brands began embracing the phrase and using it in their own marketing efforts. “Boston Strong”, on one hand, came to help raise money for charity and allowed a city that had felt the depths of tragedy to stand tall. On another hand, the need for remembrance can be balanced with the future of the event moving forward.
In 2015, the Boston Athletic Association with John Hancock Financial Services, moved away from the Boston Strong motto as a move away from dwelling on what happened and the appearance of profiting off of other’s suffering. After such an event, there’s a fine line between keeping the marketing tasteful, respecting the past, and reaching towards the next few years of the sport. For 2015, the Boston Marathon played on the phrase “There’s only one Boston”, a means to focus on the intent of the Marathon while still honoring the value in coming together strongly on behalf of the city.
In 2016, the Boston Marathon and John Hancock rebranded with a new hashtag. Under the #RunBold campaign, the theme of the event is endurance. Like last year’s race, this has a dual meaning for the runners and the city. In correspondence, the public had the opportunity to submit their photos for inclusion on the banners ending the marathon- marking the first time that the general public has become directly involved in the Marathon’s advertising.
Sports events have a branding to them, and oftentimes after a notable event, this brand needs to be able to respond appropriately moving forward. The Boston Athletic Association has moved towards recognizing and valuing the personal achievements of the runners and their key motivations. The 2016 race should be a memorable one for everyone involved.