New GM excited to join Comrades

2015-03-18 00:00

THE Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has appointed a new ­general manager who hopes to continue building the iconic brand on a national and global stage.

Chris Fisher will take over the new post from April and his many years of experience in sponsorship, marketing and communications made him the ideal candidate to continue ­building the World’s Oldest Ultra­marathon brand.

Fisher completed a BCom in Law and Economics at Rhodes University in 1982 and went on to work for South African Breweries for 11 years, before joining Barloworld for eight years — where he is credited as playing a major role in their global rebranding.

He achieved that with the Team Barloworld branding initiative that achieved huge success at the Tour de France.

For the past three years, Fisher has run his own marketing consultancy — Noble Concepts — before he agreed to join the CMA team.

“I am really excited to be joining the iconic brand,” Fisher told The Witness yesterday.

“From my side, I have seen how sponsorship of sport today has become far more commercialised. My experience in dealing with international and local sponsors will hopefully help the brand continue to grow,” he said.

The Comrades Marathon celebrates its 90th anniversary this year and Fisher said the brand speaks for itself in both South Africa and around the world — so what does he plan for one of the most established and well-recognised running events of all time?

“I am happy with the current local and international sponsors we have on board. But any sport needs to have media appeal. The Comrades already has such a positive image and reputation and there is every reason for it to become more recognised on an international scale.

“For that reason, I would like to start looking at different target markets. Every brand has the potential to go global, but we certainly don’t want to start concentrating solely on global exposure. It is so well-established locally and we have amazing sponsors, so I’d like to get more eyes on the sport.”

With a little over two months until this year’s up-run, Fisher said there was not too much work left to be done for the 2015 showpiece.

“Fortunately we have a very strong CMA team and they have been planning the whole year for the 90th anniversary race. I have the utmost trust in their ability and while I will be looking towards the future, I will assist them where I can to make sure this race is a success.”

Fisher will be relocating to Pietermaritzburg from Johannesburg and is excited about the move and the job ahead.

“I am extremely excited to get stuck into it. We have stakeholders all over the country, so I will be fairly busy all year round.”

Above everything, Fisher believes the race and road-running in general is well-established, but many more people can be converted into fans and participants in the sport.

“We want to take the brand to new fans.

“We already have a considerable amount of people in the country and the world who have been touched by the Comrades, but there are so many more that could be introduced to the race and road-running.”

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