Tyre manufacturers and football, a premier partnership
The football universe, with its global media reach, has provided a showcase for numerous tyre brands, helping them to become household names. Since the early 1990s, tyre manufacturers have established themselves as a model in football sponsorship. Capitalising on the image and status associated with the world’s favourite sport, brands have been quick to forge partnerships with clubs, as well as tournaments and associations.
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Continental: the pioneer
A pioneer in football sponsorship, Continental has made the beautiful game its marketing weapon of choice. Since 1995, the German brand has invested in partnerships with associations and major competitions to boost its image on the international scene. It first sponsored the UEFA Champions League from 1995 to 2000, before moving on to the European Championship and the FIFA World Cup, spending up to €50 million for top billing.
Since then, Continental has distanced itself from FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) but rather than withdrawing from the football industry, the manufacturer has instead opted to tackle emerging markets. In 2015 it signed a lucrative new contract with the Chinese Football Association (CFA), to complement its existing partnerships with national federations in Spain and Germany.
Bridgestone, Hankook et Goodyear
Following Continental’s example, Bridgestone and Hankook have established partnerships with major regional competitions offering international visibility. In 2012, Bridgestone signed a deal to become the main sponsor of the Copa Libertadores club tournament in South America, gaining the naming rights for the competition.
Korean manufacturer Hankook has chosen the Europa League, another UEFA club tournament, for its marketing campaigns. Recently, Hankook has also started sponsoring popular clubs such as Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. Goodyear has adopted a similar strategy, signing a sponsorship deal with international football giant Bayern Munich in 2016.
Pirelli and Inter, a lasting relationship
It's impossible to talk about tyres and football without mentioning Pirelli. The Italian tyre manufacturer is widely recognised thanks to its legendary partnership with Inter Milan. Inter’s players have been wearing the Pirelli logo on the European stage for many years now and the club’s successes and top players have often been associated with the brand. This partnership, spanning 21 seasons, has been extremely productive, with five Italian championship titles, four Italian cups, a Champions League victory and a UEFA cup.
In 2016, Pirelli signed another 5-year deal with Inter. The tyre manufacturer also sponsored FC Basel between 2005 and 2015.
The Premier League
As the championship with the most extensive media coverage in the world, the English Premier League is an obvious choice for brands in search of publicity, and tyre manufacturers are no exception. In 2015, Yokohama agreed a shirt sponsorship deal with Chelsea worth a record £40 million per year. The same year, Nexen signed an agreement with Manchester City and, not to be outdone by their neighbours, Manchester United followed suit a season later agreeing a deal with Apollo. Satisfied with its partnership with The Citizens, Nexen has re-signed to become the club’s first Official Sleeve Partner, meaning that from the beginning of next season, the Nexen Tire logo will be worn on the sleeves of City shirts.
This British trend for tyre sponsors was initiated by Maxxis, which in 2009 established a partnership with Liverpool. Other partnerships worthy of mention include Kumho and Tottenham, Cooper and Arsenal, Toyo and Leicester, as well as Avon and Everton.
Targeting the European market
If the Premier League ranks highly for media exposure, lesser-known tyre manufacturers have seized some equally attractive opportunities in other markets. Turkish brand Lassa, for example, has signed a sponsorship deal with FC Barcelona and its professional sports sections. Lassa is using the club’s image, and that of Turkish star player Arda Turan, to promote and expand the brand in Europe. Similarly, at the beginning of this year, Indonesian tyre brand Achilles agreed a partnership with Paris Saint Germain- a popular team in Europe and Indonesia.
Chinese manufacturer Linglong has similar ambitions and is benefiting from VFL Wolfsburg’s dynamic performance in recent years to make a name for itself in Europe. The German market remains highly profitable for a number of tyre manufacturers including Falken, which has previously sponsored multiple clubs in the Bundesliga, and which today sponsors FC Ingolstadt.
Tyre brands and their football partners:
Apollo: Manchester United, Borussia Mönchengladbach
Avon Tyres: Everton
Continental: Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Ireland, USA, Euro 2016, FIFA World Cup, China
Cooper Tires: Arsenal, Mainz
Goodyear: Bayern Munich
Hankook: Europa League, Real Madrid, Dortmund
Kumho: Schalke 04, Olympique Lyonnais, Hertha Berlin, Hamburg, Tottenham
Lassa Tires: FC Barcelona
Linglong tire: Wolfsburg
Nexen Tires: Manchester City, Eintracht Frankfurt, Lazio, Naples
Pirelli: Inter Milan
Toyo Tires: Zenit St Petersburg, Milan AC, Leicester
Yokohama: Chelsea FC
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