SBJ/January 9 - 15, 2006/Other News

Toyota making most of ‘unusual combination’

Toyota is leveraging its unique position of being the first NBA partner to also hold naming rights to the league’s All-Star Game host arena.

Toyota already has a vehicle display in
Houston’s Toyota Center called the Tundra Zone.

The company, in the first full year of its NBA sponsorship, is planning to use February’s all-star week in Houston as the launching pad for a host of offerings, including the rollout of a national sweepstakes, the introduction of new car lines, and a sponsorship of the all-star practice sessions — marking the first time the league has given title sponsorship to the practices (see chart).

The All-Star Game is scheduled for Feb. 19 at the Toyota Center.

“Not only is the All-Star Game at the Toyota Center, but we are a corporate partner as well, and that’s an unusual combination,” said Doug Frisbie, events and promotions manager for Toyota. “The overall goal is to connect our brand to the NBA and to get consumers to interact with our products.”

A league official confirmed that Toyota is the first league sponsor to also hold naming rights to an All-Star Game arena in the same season. In addition to the on-site presence, Toyota will have an ad presence on TNT’s all-star coverage throughout the week.

Last spring, the company signed as an NBA sponsor and began activation around the NBA Finals as well as sponsoring the NBA’s Rhythm ’n’ Rims music/basketball tour. Toyota is also a team sponsor for 14 of the league’s 30 clubs.

Other Toyota sports sponsorships include deals with USA Swimming and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Formula One teams.

Toyota's NBA All-Star Plans

Sponsorship of the game’s practice sessions.
Rollout of a national sweepstakes with online voting and featuring plays of the week.
New in-arena vehicle display featuring 2006 models of the Rav4, Camry and Yaris.
Chance for fans to play video games while sitting inside Toyota Tacoma and Toyota Tundra trucks (Jam Session).
“Green screen” feature giving fans a virtual-reality opportunity to dunk inside Toyota Center (Jam Session).
Offering to fans to create their own MP3 track (Jam Session).

The company’s NBA spending in Houston will extend to the Jam Session fan-interactive event, which will run Feb. 16-19.

“It will be significant,” Frisbie said of the total spending plans, declining to share specifics.

Local Toyota dealers will not have any promotional involvement, but will be included in hospitality considerations around the All-Star events, Frisbie said.

The additional exposure for the company will be on top of a vehicle display it already has inside Toyota Center called the Tundra Zone.

The planned national sweepstakes, which is yet to be named, will let fans vote on their favorite NBA plays weekly via a Web site. One winner will be selected from that pool of voters each week, with that person receiving a choice of three experiences as a prize.

“The details are being worked out, but the winners can spend time with an NBA player, an NBA-related fashion designer or record producer,” Frisbie said. “We are trying to broaden our brand not only to the NBA as a sport, but also with its music and fashion lifestyle.”

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