Atlanta Track Club & Mizuno USA sign historic "integrated marketing " agreement: What it means to the sport, by Larry Eder

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Rich Kenah, Executive Director/Atlanta Track Club,  Christo Landry, 2014 AJC Peachtree winner,  Bob Puccini, President of Mizuno USA, November 12, 2014, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

In an announcement with far-reaching consequences, the Atlanta Track Club and Mizuno, one of the largest sports product manufacturers in the world, have reached a long term agreement for Mizuno to sponsor all facets of the Atlanta Track Club, its events and its merchandise. These programs include daily fitness programs, an elite development program through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as well as the official apparel and footwear designation for the iconic AJC Peachtree Road Race. The term, "fully-integrated" does apply to this announcement. 


For Bob Puccini, long term president of Mizuno USA and a veteran of the sports marketing wars, this is a new approach in North America. Mizuno USA, with the Atlanta Track Club, will develop a long term fitness program affecting runners and walkers in the Atlanta area. Mizuno will become the official apparel and footwear sponsor for the crown jewel in the Atlanta Track Club's properties: the AJC Peachtree Road Race, with over 60,000 runners, it is a moving, breathing icon of the sport of running. 

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Rich Kenah/ATC and Bob Puccini/Mizuno, 
a meeting of the minds, and brands, 
by PhotoRun.net

For Rich Kenah, the executive director of the Atlanta Track Club, this is a feather in Mr. Kenah's cap and his team at the ATC. Kenah has been known for many years to think out of the box in our sport, from his approach to sports marketing and media while at Global Athletics & Marketing, to his experience as both an Olympian and World Championship medalist at 800 meters. 

Kenah's gift though, was not his personal understanding of what a prize the Atlanta Track Club is, it was communicating that concept to Bob Puccini at Mizuno. Puccini, again, is a veteran of the sports marketing wars in North America, and has received every pitch under the sun. Puccini understands that Mizuno has a much deeper understanding of their relationship not only to the Atlanta Track Club, but, also the city of Atlanta. In sponsoring the Atlanta Track Club, Puccini has a sponsorship that more than fulfills the brands goals. In this sponsorship, Mizuno USA embodies the culture of Mizuno's global mission of increasing health and wellness in the communities that it supports. 

The goal of placing up to two people on the 2020 Olympic team has several points of interest. This means that Mizuno will work with Atlanta Track Club to develop an elite group of athletes to develop from 2015 to 2020. It also means that Mizuno USA is recognizing the import the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, a hard-won victory which former Mizuno global chairman, Masato Mizuno championed.

Mizuno is one of the most important brands in running in North America, and in the world. It is a sleeping giant. Their mantra is " a passion for running."  A very popular brand among core runners, especially core women runners, their recent social media campaigns over the past three years have established the brand as an even larger player. Their agreement with ATC is a commitment to the city of Atlanta and the 30 plus events managed by the Atlanta Track Club. 

What does the agreement meant to the sport? Atlanta Track Club is one of the first clubs, if not the first to package all of their properties together and develop a relationship with a single brand. The establishment of programs for both the running community and elite running community is also a huge plus to this program. And, in the city that gave us the 1996 Olympics, it looks like a legacy for running and athletics is finally in place. 

Also worth noting, the day of putting your brand name on a runners bib is over. To make a brand work, one must coordinate sales opportunities for the brand, both globally and locally. 

Combining the needs the two Atlanta brands, Mizuno and the Atlanta Track Club should be the model for other running communities. 

The Mizuno-Atlanta Track Club shows that the ATC has gone big time. 

Kudos to Rich Kenah and Bob Puccini. 

To see the Mizuno/Atlanta Track Club video, click here: http://youtu.be/WI7r4f0U5Ns

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