Why Aren’t Running Companies Sponsoring the Color Run?

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color run sponsorship
One of the categories that Channel Signal monitors and analyzes is running events. We aggregate online conversations about marathons, obstacle races, road races, etc. and break down the trends in the consumer talk.
Since last December, we’ve documented something interesting: The Color Run, an event no one in the running industry seems to take seriously, buries other running events in sheer volume of consumer conversation. See the chart below.

Online Consumer Mentions:

March February January
Color Run 116,122 53,299 31,119
Tough Mudder 22,672 15,874 15,617
Spartan Race 20,671 11,605 10,133
Ragnar 3,850 5,995 4,588
Warrior Dash 3,509 2,380 2,549

Given that level of consumer engagement, you would think that running industry manufacturers and retailers would be sprinting to the bandwagon. You would be wrong. Despite having 90 US events scheduled for 2014 and another 25 coming soon, The Color Run currently has no running industry sponsors.
At the time of this writing, The Color Run website lists the official sponsors as Shout (the cleaning product), Kind (healthy snacks), and Global Citizen (nonprofit trying to end poverty).
When Channel Signal gave a presentation The Running Event in Austin TX, the group of 150 running specialty dealers and industry people groaned when we shared this data. When we’ve shown these numbers to running shoe company execs, the reaction is much the same: these are not our people.
Forget the wisdom of crowds; this attitude is shortsighted.
No, they’re not buying $200 shoes, $60 compression socks and wrist-top computers, but every manufacturer and retailer needs customers like these to buy its entry-level gear. 60% of Color Run participants have not previously run a 5k or longer. That’s gold. So they don’t time themselves, get over it.
These are new customers coming into your sport. Embrace them. Educate them. Sell them stuff. Drop the idea that these newbies will alienate your hardcore customer. These people are having a blast and being a part of that brings you new, happy customers.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.