Timex Runs (26.2 Miles) on Time

Timex may want to revive its classic tag, but with a slight change. The company has signed a four-year deal to become the first official timekeeper of the ING New York Marathon, so related marketing could say: “Takes a licking and keeps on . . . running.”

Timex, Middlebury, Conn., will activate with ads that include Internet and outdoor, plus an aptly named “First Timers” promotion, in which the company will acknowledge participants who are running in their first marathon. That’s a significant number as “40% [of the more than 110,000 people who filed applications] to run in the marathon [were doing so] for the first time,” said Ann Wells Crandall, svp-business development and marketing strategies at New York Road Runners, which oversees the marathon. Timex’s lead agency is Arnold, New York. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Timex is already aligned with other race events, including the Ironman triathlon series. Timex joins three other first-time ING NYC Marathon sponsors for the Nov. 2 event: Widex (hearing aids), Emerald Nuts and Food Emporium supermarkets.

In addition, several sponsors are increasing their presence. NYRR and Toyota this week will unveil a “Pick and Drive” effort, anchored by a Web site where visitors can predict the top three finishers among men and women for a chance to win a new Prius. Continental Airlines will provide 18,000 “Go!” cards for people along the marathon route, each with a scratch-off element offering discounts on items from marathon sponsors. And Asics athletic shoes and apparel has launched “Sound Mind x Sound Body x New York = Heart,” via vitrorobertson, San Diego, which includes a Web site where runners can share their stories for a chance to be part of a TV spot  breaking during NBC’s national coverage of the marathon.

The ING NYC Marathon theme, “What does it take?” is featured in print, outdoor and Internet, handled in-house by NYRR. “It speaks to the broader issues surrounding the marathon,” said Crandall. “The training, the support teams and the emotions that the [nearly 39,000] participants bring to the event.”