By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved; used with permission
Dutch financial services company NN Group has extended their title sponsorship of the NN Running Team, the company reported this week.
Along with Nike, NN has sponsored what is the best commercial running team in the world which features Olympic and World Championships medalists like Eliud Kipchoge, Geoffrey Kamworor, Kenenisa Bekele, Joshua Cheptegei, Letesenbet Gidey, and Yalemzerf Yehualaw. Indeed, Kipchoge and Bekele are the two fastest marathoners in history.
NN has supported the team since it was founded by Jos Hermens of Global Sports Communications in Nijmegen in 2017. It remains an unusual partnership, with a financial services firm and Nike teaming up to sponsor the team’s 24 athletes from seven countries. The sponsorship was extended three additional years, NN officials said today.
“We have been extremely impressed by the NN Running Team,” said NN’s head of branding Mariëlle Krouwel at a press conference today in Rotterdam. The team’s prestige and visibility has grown, partly due to the growing worldwide attention for athletics in general and marathons specifically.
“We are very proud to have been a trusted partner from the start of the NN Running Team.” She added: “We are looking forward to the next three years, as we continue our successful partnership, and keep pushing together to change the face of the sport.”
Without question, Kipchoge’s star power is at the core of the team’s attractiveness to NN. The 37-year-old Kenyan, who won his second consecutive Olympic Marathon last August in Tokyo, is the world’s most popular distance runner.
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His quest to break the two-hour barrier for the marathon –which he did in an exhibition in Vienna in October, 2019– earned him admirers globally, boosted his Instagram following to 1.7 million, and landed him in the pages of GQ. He has become a pop culture icon, and does all of his running in NN kit and Nike shoes.
Although the terms of the sponsorship extension were not disclosed, it is surely in the millions of dollars, annually. That’s big money in athletics, especially from a “non-endemic” sponsor from outside of the running industry. Only Japanese corporate teams are providing funding for running teams at this level.
Most non-endemic sponsorships in the running industry are reserved for events, like the TCS New York City Marathon and Bank of America Chicago Marathon. NN also sponsors the NN Marathon Rotterdam which will be held on Sunday.
Hermens, who finished tenth in the Olympic 10,000m in Montreal in 1976, saw the potential create a running team with a corporate brand.
“Something that started as a dream has developed over time and now inspires millions of runners and running fans all over the world,” Hermens said today. “The team concept proves to be the perfect set-up for our athletes’ partners and has turned out to be a great platform to tell our stories.
“NN Group believed in us and our plans from the beginning and we’re delighted to announce the extension of this great partnership with our title sponsor NN Group.”
In addition to Nike, the NN Running Team also enjoys sponsor support from INEOS, a global chemical company, and Abbott, a global medical products company.
PHOTO: NN Running Team members Nienke Brinkman and Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands show off their kit at a press conference today in Rotterdam; both athletes will run Sunday’s NN Marathon Rotterdam (photo courtesy of NN Running Team)