NBC Sports Deal Helps Spartan Race Stand Out in Crowded Field

Obstacle Course's TV Partnership Is Boosting Brand Awareness, Registration

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Credit: Spartan Race

In today's race market, the competition doesn't end with the barbed wire, mud pits and fire jumps. Oversaturation -- from Color Runs to Urbanathlons -- demands race coordinators work to stand out among the crowd. Spartan Race has a well-toned leg up on others: a high-profile partnership with NBC Sports Group.

According to Colby Connell, Spartan Race's vp-marketing, registration is trending up just over 30% year-over-year since the brand introduced commercial promotion on television with NBCSN last year. The space for racing has gotten very crowded, Ms. Connell said, and TV is proving a strong brand differentiator for Spartan Race.

Ms. Connell said that while TV is difficult to track, the company noticed spikes on web and social channels when the show was aired nationally and regionally. Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena said NBCSN brought a level of legitimacy to the race.

"I think people are more comfortable with trying [the race]," Mr. De Sena said. "Once people come out, they're hooked. We need visuals. NBC really has the reach."

Mr. De Sena said it's important to spread awareness of the race so the company can grow and future projects can be funded -- building the obstacle course, for example, can get expensive. "Anybody who did a kitchen renovation can know how much over budget you can go," he pointed out. "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."

With Spartan Race's growing popularity and high level of engagement, Rob Simmelkjaer, senior VP of NBC Sports Ventures, said responses in the sponsorship marketplace have been incredibly positive. Recently, NBC Sports Group and Spartan Race, now in year two of a four-year partnership, announced new sponsors, including two-year deals with TomTom and Panasonic. Last year, TomTom and Panasonic participated in on-site efforts for a few select races. This year, the two brands were upgraded to event and telecast sponsors. Reebok is in its second year of a two-year deal with Spartan Race, and Paleo Ranch and Clif Bar have signed on for one-year deals.

Founded in 2010, Spartan Race includes "Sprint," "Super" and "Beast" races. NBC Sports Group's new season of Spartan Race begins July 21.

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