The New York City Marathon is acknowledged as one of the Greatest Races. The short races, like 100 to 10,000 meters are sports events—this marathon has evolved as a unifying force in USA. Fred Lebow, who chalked out the blue-print for this race, was a visionary and he succeeded in creating a unique connectivity within the people of cross-sections of the society. “Fred Lebow was a dreamer, the kind of dreamer who pursued his dream and made it a reality. And the world is still reaping the rewards. “(Rubin, 2004, p.
7) He foresaw the extraordinary commercial potentialities of this event, in which many thousands actively participated and some millions viewed, thanks to the technological advances and internet revolution. Lay people from the remotest countryside enjoyed the event live! In any race, only one is the final victor but the satisfaction derived by large numbers of participants donning colorful attires is also great. They have the special reason to be proud of, because they have participated in the NYC marathon of Fred Lebow! Why does it give the Big Apple its happiest and unifying day of the year?
The expression “Big Apple” is as glorious as the popularity of the marathon. It refers to the era of Depression-of the 1930s. Many issues are associated with this name. The side-walk apple vendors are credited with extensively using this expression. A popular dance of the 1930s was also known as the “Big Apple. ” The Morning Telegraph carried a regular column with the title, “Around the Big Apple. ” It was immensely liked by the readers. The marketing strategists began to cash on the popularity of the expression, “Big Apple. ” Its status enhanced to become a popular brand!
Many consumer items like shopping bags, ties, lapel pins, ashtrays, tie tacks, magnets and T-shirts began to flood the market. Fred Lebow fully utilized the commercial aspect of “Big Apple” for his marathon. He made participation in the marathon race the ambition of life of every runner. He believed, “In running it doesn’t matter if you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or in the last. You can say, ‘I finished. ’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that. ” Ron Rubin, the author of this book, is Professor of political science at Borough of Manhattan Community College.
NYC marathon has united Americans of all categories and classes transcending man-made barriers. That which is popular with the youth of the country has to be popular at all levels. Lebow applied power, the central concept of political science, for his role in mass marketing, capturing the keys to the city, squeezing money from sponsors: One can not make the sweeping statement that Fred Lebow squeezed money from the sponsors. To secure money from the sponsors, who are marketing wizards and sales strategists, is no ordinary task. Lebow won over them with his expertise and guile.
He outsmarted them by presenting the well-researched statistics as for the popularity of the marathon. The science of marketing was at the infancy in the 1970s, and without being a marketing expert in the professional sense, without any academic qualifications in marketing, what he did was indeed a marvel. Marketing experts had to accept defeat and accept his proposals. In the College of self-education, Lebow’s mind was his Principal; his initiative, the Professors; his hard work the tutors! He was a man to decide and act; start and finish!
He was willing to work very hard to translate his marathon dream into a reality. The most important part of his style was he worked intelligently. Otherwise, how could he convert a small countryside sports exercise into a mega-event that demanded the attention and appreciation world over? He knew how power worked. How power can support and push up issues. Lebow hails from Romania. He immigrated to New York in 1949 and began to run by joining New York Road Runners. Perhaps he was thinking deep and high as he ran across the jogging tracks of Central Park, Manhattan!
Power and high-pitched ambition with right attitudes, makes a great combination. When in 1969, he became the Club President Lebow knew what he was up to! This volunteer based leisure club became the business enterprise of Marathon. He set a profit target and was out to achieve it. For promoting the event, he made appropriate use of the print and the electronic media. He gave them ample quotes and real-life stories. He undertook all publicity gimmicks that helped the cause of the marathon. His capacity to inspire the common man was immense. And surprisingly he was not a competitive runner.
He also ran with other runners and that did the trick! The 800-acre park race became the five boroughs race! The marathon turned out to be the “Apple City” event. The topics in the book covered by Ronald Ruben provide the correct picture as for the innovative marketing strategies followed by Lebow. He has been rightly labeled as a Showman, apart from a sports-loving individual. His marathon-show was to inspire the people; for benefit to the people; by the people and for the people! He groomed runners! Some of his boys proved to be outstanding marathon runners!
The noticeable chapters in the book that speak about the personality and the marketing capacity of Lebow are, From Arad to Central Park, Framing a Five-Borough Party, King of New York for a Day “Running” the Show, Unschooled Mass Marketing, Wrestling the Keys to the City, Squeezing Money from Sponsors, Manipulating the Media, Shrewdly Assembling His International Entourage of Runners, Amassing a Crew to Help The Race to the Finish and finally and unfortunately, The Race against the Cancer! And finally ‘the nature said that the work is done’ and Lebow’s race was run!
With undaunted spirit, and with never-say-die attitude, he ran the last mile of the race, as a brain cancer patient. The sportsperson spirit prevailed over his physical ailment. Lebow was a bachelor and he nursed the marathon like his own child. As a person, he was loveable, pushy, manipulative, charming and hotheaded –all clubbed into one! Lebow was a shrewd planner. He knew well that no big event can be managed without adequate resources. His mission, therefore, had a commission (money) angle! On the day of the marathon, he was unstoppable and was seen everywhere, from the beginning of the race to the finish!
He was there at the starting line, made sure that the race went smoothly, and at the finish line he was the first one to congratulate all the runners. He made everybody feel important. He could well understand how the finishing line was emotionally important to every marathon runner. He dealt with the sponsors superbly. He tendered before them unchallengeable facts and figures, to prove to them how the sponsorship would work to their advantage. Here is the example of his extraordinary salesmanship. He quoted $75,000 for the honor of providing the pace vehicles for the male and female leaders.
The proposal was promptly turned down by the party and the counter proposal that he made, showed how the sixth sense of Lebow worked. He offered to pay them $10,000 to appoint an independent market analyst, as for making the assessment of the benefit the company will derive of this exposure, of which Lebow would take 10%. He hoped to net $ 100,000 thus! The company relented and gave him $50,000 and the use of a Buick for one year! “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em. ” (Shakespeare…. ) Fred Lebow belongs to the second category.
He had a dream and he worked to make it a reality. He made the NYC marathon a mass movement and now half a million Americans run marathons all over USA. Top marketing Managers emulate his strategies. He instilled the sense of competition and fighting spirit among the common runner. The wise saying goes, ‘Life is to be lived in is trials and tribulations; its duty and beauty. ’ Lebow lived up to every syllable of this quote. “Fred Lebow was a dreamer… the kind of dreamer who pursued his dream and made it a reality. And today, more than thirty years later, the world is still reaping the rewards of his vision and hard work….
Fred Lebow’s life was [truly] a story just waiting–and deserving–to be told. ” (Rubin, 2004…Preface) Of the 69 marathons, he ran only once! Conclusion: One feels marathon race is part of one’s life, once you go through the contents of the book. “For me, running is a lifestyle and an art…” said Lebow. He evolved the culture of marathon. He converted a sports event into a cultural and social saga and people looked forward and participated in it with extraordinary enthusiasm. This book, “…. T-Shirt” is no ordinary shirt. Below that shirt one can hear the throbbing beats of the
References: Rubin, Ron (Author) Burke, William A(Foreword) Book: Anything For A T-shirt: Fred Lebow Paperback: 328 pages Publisher: Syracuse University Press (October 31, 2004) Language: English ISBN-10: 0815608063 ISBN-13: 978-0815608066 Shakespeare, William: Book: Twelfth Night, Act ii, Scene 5