Michelob Ultra spotlights first woman in Boston Marathon for empowerment campaign


    • Anheuser-Busch InBev brand Michelob Ultra unveiled its Run Fund, a platform that will support women and non-binary athletes entering the 2023 New York City Marathon, and a campaign timed to this year’s marathon, per details shared with Marketing Dive. 
    • Central to the effort is a 60-second spot featuring the story of Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, which will air in New York during the marathon on Nov. 6. The brand is also hosting a panel featuring Switzer, Olympian Alexi Pappas, 100-time marathon finisher Jocelyn Rivas and author Jake Fedorowski. 
    • The brand will launch “Train Like A Pro Marathon Runner,” a platform for runners to training tips from coaches. The effort follows similar gender-inclusive moves by Michelob Ultra and alludes to growing interest by alcohol brands to expand their reach to women and minority audiences. 


    Alcoholic beverage brands this year have upped their game when it comes to marketing to diverse audiences, and for good reason — ads that promote gender inclusivity are proven to perform better than those that do not, per research by Ipsos and SeeHer cited during an Advertising Week New York panel discussing inclusivity in the alcohol industry. 

    Aptly timed to this year’s NYC Marathon, Michelob Ultra’s Run Fund in partnership with the New York Road Runners will offer a contest for women and non-binary athletes to win a bib to the 2023 NYC Marathon and access to training programs and resources. Michelob Ultra has been a longtime sponsor of the race. Over time, the Run Fund will expand to include multiple races nationwide. 

    In the 60-second spot promoting the effort, Switzer tells the story of her experience breaking barriers as the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, recreating an iconic photo of her running the race in 1967 as a pool of men desperately attempt to stop her. As the photo appears on screen, Switzer says, “If I quit, this picture would tell the world that women shouldn’t run, but if I kept going, my last step of this race would become the first step for millions.” 

    The spot will air during this year’s NYC Marathon on WABC and will also run during the week leading up to the race. Additionally, Michelob Ultra in partnership with the Women’s Sports Foundation on Nov. 5 will host a panel focused on gender equality in sports at the Manhattan Manor featuring Switzer, Olympian Pappas, author Fedorowski, who wrote “The Guide to Non-Binary Inclusion in Running,” and Rivas, the youngest Latina to run 100 marathons. The panel, titled “The Road to Inclusion: 50 Years of Breaking Barriers,” will be led by sports broadcaster Cari Champion with closing remarks from Phaidra Knight, an MMA fighter and member of the World Rugby Hall of Fame.

    Michelob Ultra in recent efforts has made additional strides to promote gender equality in sports. In August last year, the brand announced a $100 million commitment over the next five years in efforts to increase visibility for women’s sports. The brand also unveiled its “Save it, See It” campaign encouraging Instagram users to tap the “save” button on posts featuring women’s sports content in an effort to increase visibility and the odds of women athletes receiving funding and sponsorship. During this year’s Super Bowl, the brand ran an ad featuring Serena Williams emphasizing similar themes of gender equality.


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