This Oct. 10 marked the fifteenth consecutive year that Volkswagen has been a sponsor of the Chicago Marathon, and to celebrate that fact it launched the the Chicago Marathon Expo on the day before the race and the VW Fan Zone on race day, halfway through the race at mile 12, where it invited participants and attendees to grab a little hospitality, VW-style. The Expo and Zone together drew about 125,000 people. Expo did it with the help of signings by ultra marathoner Dean Karnazes and Chicago Fire soccer players Gonzalo Segares and Steven Kinney; and the the 3,200-square-foot Zone, anchored by a 53-foot, fully branded trailer, sucked them in with celebrity DJ’s pumping music all day. One of the key elements of the event was the launch of the new 2011 Jetta, and included “The Great Jetta Giveaway,” a data collection component that drew about 2,500 entrants on-site and will award the grand prizewinner with a two-year lease of the car for free. In addition to the Jetta, the automaker brought out the 2011 models of its Toureg, CC, Golf TDI, Tiguan and Routan. The brand also rolled out the Doodle Bug, a VW Beetle wrapped in whiteboard paint so fans could write encouraging messages to runners passing the mid-point. Other giveaways included custom-made flipbooks and signboards, water bottles, t-shirts, pom-poms, kazoos and free parking for VW owners. Check out the video here.
“We wanted to make a big splash with this desirable active lifestyle demographic and help participants and fans remember that Volkswagen is bringing value back to them for our fifteenth year,” Ben Friedson, manager-sports marketing at Volkswagen, told Buzz. “It’s a unique marathon and Chicago is a very important market for us because this marathon has one of the largest [turnouts of] first-time runner participants, so we get new audiences every year.” Agencies: TEAM enterprises, DeutschLA.