Meb Keflezighi’s epic Boston Marathon victory on Monday, April 21 was a true “win” in every sense of the word. He became the first American man at the top of the podium since 1983; at 38, the oldest man to win Boston in more than 80 years; and, of course, a jubilant symbol of “Boston Strong”, the motto held close by both runners and city residents alike since last year’s devastating attack at the marathon’s finish line.
On the business side, Keflezighi’s personal-best time and first-place finish were also a major win, for… Skechers. Yes, Skechers, the company best known for skate shoes and “Shape-Ups”, the sneakers endorsed by Kim Kardashian and investigated by the FTC for deceptive advertising (Skechers eventually settled with the FTC for $40 million to avoid future litigation).
In 2011, Skechers signed Keflezighi to a “mid-six figure” deal to endorse their fledgling “GOrun” high performance running shoe line; that deal was recently extended through 2016. The deal was considered unique in the running world at the time (and probably still should be), thanks to its lack of penalties for poor athlete performance, flexibility regarding Keflezighi’s relationships with other sponsors, and guaranteed payouts.
By taking a chance on a runner (albeit a world-class one) many considered to be on the decline, and doing the same with a brand not seen as a serious player in the elite running shoe market, Skechers and Keflezighi formed what now looks like a brilliant partnership.
However, to take full advantage of the current attention on GOrun, Skechers still has some work to do – when I went to their website to see about ordering a pair of the high performance sneakers this morning, the “Buy Now” buttons on the GOrun page all directed me to a ‘Page Not Found’! (The links I tested on their standard store page do work, however, so order away from there if you are so inclined.)
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