The Boston Marathon is gaining a new sponsor and keeping its first name, a win-win announcement made Monday morning when the Boston Athletic Association introduced Bank of America as the historic race’s presenting partner beginning in April next year.
Bank of America will take over after 38 years of John Hancock as the race’s primary sponsor with an initial 10-year deal that will re-brand the race as the “Boston Marathon presented by Bank of America.”
In a ceremony at the bank’s downtown Boston headquarters, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu welcomed the new sponsor.
“Bank of America knows that this is more than a marathon,” said Wu. “They are a trusted, beloved partner in the city of Boston, involved in so many of our key institutions and programs and initiatives. So many members of this team have been deeply embedded in policymaking in the city for a very long time, so in some ways it wasn’t a surprise to see them step up in this very big way for the city of Boston.
“But it is such a delight to know that we can further solidify this long-term relationship and make sure that the world’s biggest race has an even bigger stage.”
David Tyrie, Bank of America’s chief digital officer and chief marketing officer, listed the themes that made the bank want to enter into a long-term relationship: community, the runners, charity, the impact on local business, wellness, and diversity.
“These are all the things that actually were part of the dialogue long before we started talking about a structure of a deal or a relationship,” said Tyrie. “It was the common bonds that tie us together and keep us together for the next 10 years.
“When we did the handshake, I turned to Jack [Fleming, the BAA’s new president and CEO] and I said, ‘You know, you had me at hello.’ ”
There was speculation that a new sponsor would want its corporate name to precede “Boston Marathon” but Bank of America made it clear that it’s not important that few will ever say or write the last five words of the new official moniker when referencing the race.
“It absolutely was never a deal-breaker for us, because we feel the brand the BAA and the Boston Marathon have is the most important and is the legacy of this race since the late 1800s,” said MicealChamberlain, the bank’s president of Massachusetts.
“We’re one of their core sponsors, and anything that may come of it, whether it be good press or what we can do collectively, will come out of the partnership. We don’t have to have our name as the front line; that’s not what we’re about.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
For Fleming, the deal represents a firm foundation upon which the BAA can work to expand its mission of promoting “a healthy and active lifestyle through running — it can be running events, it can be just running and inspiring that. There’s a lot to be done there.”
John Hancock’s sponsorship extended only to the marathon; Bank of America’s will include the BAA’s 5K, 10K, and half-marathon, as well as community and neighborhood running events. Specific community outreach targets, such as the Boston Public Schools, Special Olympics, or Pine Street Inn, are still being strategized, but Fleming considers Bank of America to be a teammate in a master plan with a far broader scope than a Patriots Day road race.
“One thing that Bank of America came back to us with was ‘We see this as a 52-week-a-year opportunity and work that you do,’ " said Fleming. “This is a new starting line for us; we’re still in Hopkinton for the marathon but metaphorically speaking, it’s a new starting line for us.”
The history of the bank, the second-largest in the United States, can be traced to the late 1700s with the Massachusetts Bank up until 1999, when Bank of America merged with FleetBoston. It’s now headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.
The bank has sponsorship deals with Major League Baseball and National Football League teams, including the Red Sox and Patriots, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur golf tournament, and the Chicago Marathon, which officially goes by “Bank of America Chicago Marathon.”
Chamberlain, who grew up in Brookline and lives in Newton, said he has been “going to the race for most of my 52 years.” When he mentioned to the bank’s CEO Bryan Moynihan last November that the sponsorship was available, “He said, ‘Let’s pursue it.’ ”
Meetings with Fleming and the BAA began in the fall.
“To think about what we can do with the brand of the BAA — all of a sudden, we’d have two out of the six major marathons,” Chamberlain said. “We already have a huge presence in this community.
“I think mutually when we first sat down at the table with Jack, both our eyes collectively went up that we can help amplify everything that they’ve been doing and hopefully bring it to another level.
“John Hancock’s done an incredible job over 38 years. We think we’re very fortunate to be able to get this opportunity that only comes around once every 38 years. We’re hoping it’s longer on this one.”
This year’s marathon, the last under John Hancock’s iconic signature and support, will be run on April 17. Next year’s race will be on April 15.
Michael Silverman can be reached at email@example.com.