SBJ/20090629/Up Next

Forward Thinking with...

Steve Tihanyi
General director, media operations, marketing alliances and branded entertainment
General Motors

What should we expect in sports from the auto industry yet this year?
Tihanyi: Under current conditions I think you will see a decline. I think all (automakers) are going through a process of extensive evaluation and looking for the (sports) that provide the best fit and the biggest bang for the buck.

What, if any, role do you think sports sponsorship will play in revitalizing the domestic auto industry?
Tihanyi: If it can deliver the desired results, meaning more direct connectivity to new-car buying consumers, or greater flexibility within the rights and allowing a manufacturer to spend more on activation to achieve greater direct business metrics, then I think you’ll see it help revive the industry. If it’s the same old play, I don’t think the role will be significant. I believe we’re at a crossroads with the sports industry in general, where the partners that understand the severity of what’s happening in the auto business [and that] adjust their expectations and how they allow manufacturers to engage will come out way ahead of the ones that continue to be bound by old relationship models.

Tim Schoen
Vice president, sports and entertainment marketing

What is the biggest impact the current state of the economy will have on your approach to sports marketing in the near and longer term?
Schoen: Activation becomes far more important. We are under pressure to deliver financial results and we have to do more to provide the relief Americans need with our investment dollars. Property costs have taken increasingly more of our dollars, and we need to make activation the priority now and into the future.

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