On December 4 the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K was staged in Negril, one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world.
Corporate Jamaica and a few international companies were out in their numbers, sponsoring an event that has been around for decades. However, like all other major events, due to COVID-19 the Reggae Marathon was postponed for a couple years.
Due to the absence of the event for the past few years, it was well attended by locals and people from overseas. Many used it as a way to test their fitness level, while it was a goal achieved for others who had been working for months on their personal fitness.
From a marketing perspective, I think the different sponsors executed to the T. The branding was excellent and the positioning of the branding material was optimal. Driving or walking from point A to B you could see the various banners highlighting the brands and sales representatives promoting their respective products.
The tents were strategically placed, supplying water and Gatorade for the participants in order to prevent them from becoming dehydrated, and the police and first responder teams were out in their numbers to attend to any unforeseen eventualities.
As it relates to promoting the culture, I would give the organisers an A+ as you could see the items depicting Jamaican traditions on display, the kette drums played in the streets, different mobile sound systems were strategically located along the route, playing the music of Bob Marley, the king of reggae, while tourists and locals alike "bounced" to the tunes.
Unfortunately, though, the staging of the marathon proved to be a nightmare for those who had to travel to and from work. I would give the organisers a failing grade for this aspect. In my opinion, not enough thought was given to those people who would be displaced by the closing of roads to facilitate the participants, and they were left feeling disgruntled and frustrated.
People had to walk miles to get to work. It was as if those who were going to work were doing their own marathon to access transportation.
I am not disputing the tremendous benefits that this event has brought to the country on a whole and Negril in particular, but if this is going to continue to be a yearly event, the organisers should consider the workers who sacrifice daily to ensure that they sell Brand Jamaica. Like everything else, adequate arrangements should have been put in place to prevent these workers from walking miles to and from work.
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