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How Brands Tweeted About the 2014 Boston Marathon

  |  May 20, 2014   |  Comments

The emotional 2014 Boston Marathon was embraced by brands on Twitter. See how a selection of brands chose to engage with consumers on this day in April.

Surely you've heard of it. And if you're a runner like me, unless you've already run it, it's probably on your bucket list, a race that's always been on your radar. It's the legendary Boston Marathon, the oldest annual marathon in the world, an historic, 26.2-mile journey that I'm proud to say I've run 12 times, including this year.

Of course, running Boston this time around was extra special. Given the two bombs that exploded near the finish line last year, killing three spectators and injuring more than 200 others, all eyes were on the 118th edition of this event. And all hearts were with it, too. To say it was an emotional, exhilarating day for me and everyone else who either ran or watched the race would be an understatement.

The blanket of media coverage was unprecedented. One way or another, it seemed the whole world was watching how the marathon would unfold this year. Every step of the race was covered from every possible angle. At least that's how it felt to me.

A number of brands on Twitter, many of them sponsors, were in on the action as well. What were they saying about the marathon in 140 characters or less? While they were often touting their products and services, in some cases they were also paying homage to the participants and spectators involved in a marathon for the ages. Here's how a handful of brands tweeted about the 2014 Boston Marathon...

Emotionally. Like all the runners and spectators, those who were tweeting about the marathon couldn't help but be caught up themselves in the emotion of the event. Adidas Running (@adidasrunning), shared a great picture of Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, the mother and her daughter who were seriously injured in the bombings last year, with Celeste's sister, Carmen Acabbo, crossing the finish line together, hand in hand.


Example: adidas Running

Promotionally. Naturally, an event of this magnitude lends itself well to all kinds of newsjacking opportunities. For the third year in a row, Samuel Adams (@SamuelAdamsBeer), one of the sponsors of the Boston Marathon, brewed a commemorative beer, Boston 26.2 Brew, as its own special toast to the race. And like it did last year, the company donated all of the profits from the sale of the beer to The Greg Hill Foundation to support the survivors and families of the 2013 Boston Marathon tragedy. 

samuel-adamsExample: Samuel Adams Beer

Extemporaneously. While it's important for brands to schedule content ahead of time on Twitter, it's incumbent upon them to be tweeting in the here and now as well, especially during a live event. Such real-time marketing is not only expected of them, it's absolutely necessary if they want to take full advantage of the heightened visibility of their communications. Among its many tweets about the 2014 Boston Marathon, Stonyfield Organic (@Stonyfield) shared a great pic of its founder, Gary Hirshberg, handing out product samples at the conclusion of the race.


Example: Stonyfield Organic

Informatively. Many people turn to Twitter for late-breaking news and detailed information, especially when something is trending. That's why brands today need to serve as publishers, sharing a variety of content about anything that's likely to be of interest to their customers and constituents. In this tweet, AT&T (@ATT) told its followers how they could receive AT&T Athlete Alerts, a series of texts that include a runner's time at different intervals of the marathon. Instructive. Convenient. And with the hashtag, #ItsOurBoston, embedded in such a cool photo, very well played. 

Example: AT&T

Joyously. As horrifyingly tragic, sad, and frightening were the two bomb explosions on Boylston Street at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 21, 2013, this year's race brought only joy and exultation to anyone involved in the experience. From start to finish, it was a picture-perfect race. While many brands captured the delight of the big day in their Twitter coverage of the event, no other tweet that I saw captured it better than this one a few days later from Boston Marathon JH (@jhboston26). 

boston-marathon-jhExample: Boston Marathon JH

To see a custom timeline curated by Bob Cargill of more than 150 tweets about the 2014 Boston Marathon, click here.

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Bob Cargill

Bob Cargill, who was named "Direct Marketer of the Year" for 2009 by the New England Direct Marketing Association (NEDMA), is director of social media at Overdrive Interactive. During the course of his career, his work has been recognized with more than 40 awards from NEDMA, including Gold for his blog, Gold for Best Tweets, and Silver for Best Copywriting. Bob likes to keep his fingers on the pulse of the industry in which he earns his livelihood. Not only has he presented many times about social media, copywriting, and direct marketing, he has been published or quoted on his areas of expertise in numerous media outlets. He is a past president of NEDMA and a graduate of Leadership MetroWest's Leadership Academy.

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