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Marketing at the Finish Line by Carol Hochu

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Carol Hochu TRAC
Carol Hochu. PHOTO Carol Hochu

Turning sports fans into tire fans

Is there is a better tire marketing season than summer?

There is a seemingly endless and fascinating lineup of sporting events and marketing opportunities that come along with them.

The tire industry’s involvement in sports sponsorship can be seen as “pedal-to-the-metal” in the summer.

Sports and tires go together just like Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, and other dynamic sporting duos.

The connection comes down to the human-powered play coupled with the common core values behind both tires and athletes—performance, strength, and toughness.

As the only part of your car that touches the road, tires are an integral component to safety, control, and performance, just as it is for athletes about being the strongest and getting to the finish line before the competition.

In this view, sports sponsorship makes perfect sense for tire makers.

Brand recognition

Why are tires makers so actively involved in sponsorship?

Brand recognition is one reason.

Tire companies are masters at connecting with the sports industry, and if you are an armchair athlete and enjoy hockey, tennis, soccer, baseball, golf, auto racing, the Olympics, and other athletic pursuits, I am certain you can recall the main sponsor of your favourite league.

If I just name the league or a sport, its fans can easily jump to the affiliated tire brand—NHL, MLB, NASCAR. Can you see the brand?

The mobility connection, both engine- and human-powered is a natural one, and motorsports is where tire brands are made.

Tire manufacturers have a deep and long-lasting involvement in the world of sports, including drag racing. PHOTO Goodyear

The “Official Tire of NASCAR” has been in its place since the dawn of time it seems, but in case you are from another continent, to put the brand and a year behind it: Goodyear has been involved with NASCAR since 1954, making it one of the longest-running sponsor programs in any sport.

Pirelli has been involved in motorsport since 1907 and became the exclusive official tire partner of the Formula 1 World Championship in 2011.

Michelin supports Gran Turismo, Formula E and Roborace (the latter a competition of autonomous, electric vehicles). The list goes on.

Official connection

But in marketing, tire brand recognition and exposure are not run by pistons alone.

Other great sports sponsorship examples come in the form of “The Official Tire of the NHL.” For the hockey fans out there, the brand recall comes in a flash.

Yes, Bridgestone has been the Official Tire of the NHL, NHLPA and the Hockey Hall of Fame since 2008.

Additionally, most hockey fans also know which NHL team plays in the Bridgestone Arena.

With the Olympic Games afoot, the company has been grabbing headlines as the Worldwide Olympic Partner and Worldwide Paralympic Partner.

Same goes for the Official Tire of MLB.

I’m certain baseball fans can pull the brand information simply by closing their eyes and imagining the batter of their favourite MLB team in the box, and they see the Hankook Tire brand clear as day.

Amateur and professional teams

This is just the massive tip of the colossal iceberg with Continental, Toyo, Falken, Yokohama and other tire producers actively engaging in sports sponsorship.

Their involvement extends beyond professional sports to include amateur athletes and teams as well.

Since joining TRAC and proudly representing the tire and rubber industry in Canada, I am more than obsessed with seeking out the various tire sponsors while watching sports.

By all accounts, the tire industry sponsorship investment in sports appears to be buoyant, robust and well-worthwhile.

Plus, with this summer’s Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics I’ve proudly waved my Canadian flag and shouting “Go, Team Canada, Go!”


Carol Hochu is President of the Tire & Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC). You can reach her at [email protected]

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september, 2021

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