Participants line up at the start of the TCS Lidingöloppet, the crosscountry run with a gruelling 30-km course running through open terrain near Stockholm in Sweden

Ravi Viswanathan, chief marketing officer at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), on why marathons and other running events are good for the community, for health and for business

What led TCS to pick marathons and running events for sponsorships?

Marathons offer an attractive sponsorship avenue because they’re inclusive. We’ve found that endurance running, especially marathons, gives us a great opportunity to connect with local communities in the places where these events are held, and where TCS has notable operations and client partnerships.

Marathons are one of the few sporting events where anyone can participate in the same race alongside elite athletes. This draws not only participants but spectators as well. Friends, family, business associates and others get rooting for those who are participating. Besides, marathons are a great platform to raise funds for and create awareness about worthy causes.

The wellness of our employees is a priority. Through our support for marathons globally and our internal programmes such as Fit4Life, we are conveying a strong message about health and fitness and how they are part of the TCS culture. Our employees have been among the biggest contingents at the Mumbai Marathon. In short, TCS has created an ecosystem that encourages running marathons for employees as well as our clients and other partners.

What are you looking forward to with the Tata Mumbai Marathon?

Over the years, TCS has partnered with many marathons around the world and has been involved with Mumbai Marathon for the last 10 years. It is one of the largest marathons in the country, with entries coming in from around the world. This time it is even more special, since it is the Tata Mumbai Marathon and it is a great platform for TCS to be the title sponsor and be a part of the Chairman’s vision of ‘One Tata’.

It helps us increase our engagement with the community, raise funds for charity as well as create societal awareness about the necessity of good health and fitness.

TCS is the title sponsor of many marathons around the world. Why were these events chosen?

Association with major marathons such as the TCS New York Marathon and the TCS Amsterdam Marathon have significantly boosted our brand in these key markets. For instance, in a recent survey, the TCS Amsterdam marathon was seen to have significantly strengthened the company’s brand in the Netherlands.

TCS has entered into technology partnerships for other running events. What is the thinking behind the two-pronged approach of sponsorships and technology partnerships?

Digital technology is transforming all aspects of our society, and marathons as well. Since 2014, we have been using our core technology skills to make the TCS New York City Marathon a more technology-enriched and socially-engaged experience for participants and fans across the world. The app we developed for the marathon was downloaded by 317,000 runners and fans, the highest number for any global marathon. It has a number of new features, the most popular being the ability to track up to 20 runners and predict their time at different stages of the race.

Our official London Marathon app allowed more than 250,000 supporters to track and monitor their friends, families and colleagues during the race in April 2017. We are thrilled to be a part of bringing marathon action to thousands of runners and their supporters. The marathon sponsorship and technology associated with these partnerships goes beyond just running.

How does TCS engage with clients and other stakeholders around these running events?

Here’s an example from TCS Amsterdam. Since TCS first began its support of the Amsterdam Marathon in 2011, the event has grown to become one of the largest and most popular marathons in Europe, hosting 42,500 runners from 80 countries.

TCS employees and clients have contributed extensively to the event. Over the past four years, our employees and clients have been at the forefront of an effort that helped raise more than €500,000 for the VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the leading cancer research facility in the Netherlands. The company has won several corporate awards in recognition of these initiatives.

Does TCS support any other sport in addition to running events?

Global sports sponsorships are a major vehicle for promoting wellness and community development through sports. We have a significant portfolio of past sports partnerships, including tie-ups with Ferrari Formula, the India Premier League, the ONE Pro Cycling team in the UK, pro-cycling partnerships in Switzerland, and other cycling sponsorships in Europe.