LOS ANGELES -- Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. is signing a massive marketing partnership with the National Basketball Association. The deal elevates the automaker to the same level as major sponsors Gatorade, Coca-Cola and Reebok.
Neither Toyota nor the NBA would disclose the dollar value of the deal, but sports marketing experts estimate it could be more than $100 million, similar to Reebok's deal.
Toyota's deal is scheduled to be announced today, March 14. No other automaker has such a connection with the league. Toyota's deal extends through the end of the 2006-07 season.
The partnership includes the following:
Next season, Toyota vehicles will be integrated into NBA original programming to be broadcast on ABC, TNT or ESPN. Toyota will have involvement in a second show on NBA-TV, as well as a promotional connection to the All-Star game.
The partnership is a huge jump from Toyota's previous footprint in the league. Toyota spent $15 million on advertising on NBA broadcasts during the 2003-04 NBA season, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Toyota also was sponsor of the NBA halftime show on ESPN. Toyota and its dealers have relationships with 14 of the 30 NBA teams.
"The NBA audience is really good for us," says Mark Simmons, Toyota Motor Sales national manager of advertising strategy and media. "There's lots of 18-to-34 (year olds), and the diversity audience is tremendous. It's a fairly affluent following, and it meshes with our heartland strategy in the Midwest."
Andrew Rohm, assistant professor of marketing at Northeastern University, says, "We see this type of sponsorship going beyond simple partnerships to actual revenue generation." Reebok, for example, sells NBA-licensed apparel.
Brands often spend more in promoting such partnerships than on the partnership itself, says David Carter, principal of Sports Business Group consultancy in Redondo Beach, Calif.
The deal has a provision in case the NBA does not renew its labor agreement in time for next season, Simmons says.
It also has the side benefit of extending the Toyota brand into China, because of the popularity of Houston Rockets center Yao Ming.
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