Tire Companies Hope Baseball Advertising Pays Off

Bob Ulrich
Posted on May 18, 2017

Which tire company is associated with Major League Baseball? Is it Falken Tire Corp.? Hankook Tire America Corp.? Yokohama Tire Corp.? Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.? Kenda USA? Nexen Tire America Inc.?

Try all of them. Each of those tire manufacturers sponsors at least one baseball team. Falken however, is the official tire of Major League Baseball (MLB).

All the tire companies believe they get a lot for the money they spend. For example, thanks to its MLB sponsorship, Falken says it recorded an estimated 3 billion in impressions in 2016, its first full year as a sponsor.

According to the results of the most recent SportsBusiness Journal survey of MLB sponsor loyalty, Falken registered close to an 18% aware  ness level among fans last year. SportsBusiness Journal estimates the company spent about $2.3 million during MLB-related telecasts.

Hankook has, appropriately, a team approach to sports marketing. The company has home plate signage agreements with 26 major league teams (and outfield wall signage deals with five of those teams). As a result, it claims its brand awareness has tripled.

For the eighth consecutive year, Yokohama is partnering with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the American League. Yokohama’s sponsorship includes its corporate logo in the highly visible position of left centerfield.

Both Kenda USA and Hankook Tire America have paid for signage behind home plate at Cleveland’s Progessive Field.
Both Kenda USA and Hankook Tire America have paid for signage behind home plate at Cleveland’s Progessive Field.
Alan Holtschneider, Yokohama’s director of marketing, says the team sponsorship and branding continue to build awareness for Yokohama products among Angels fans.

Toyo and Kenda also follow the team philosophy of sports marketing. Toyo is the “Official Tire” of the Boston Red Sox, which, according to Toyo, is the team with the largest geographic market in the major leagues.

Kenda is the “Official Partner” of the Cleveland Indians through the 2017 season. As part of the agreement, Kenda receives television-visible branded home plate signage as well as baseline signage.

Hankook also has full-season home plate signage at Cleveland’s Progressive Field this year. But it is not uncommon for more than one tire company to partner with a baseball team.

Like Yokohama, Nexen sponsors the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Unlike Yokohama, its outside signage is limited to the stadium’s LED feature. Inside, the Nexen name covers the press room backdrop.

It makes sense that sports marketing is a good way to spend money. In-stadium signage takes advantage of a captive audience, and the repetition of a company’s name within eyesight and earshot of a fan can only increase brand awareness (note that I did not refer to this as brainwashing).  Also remember, fan is short for fanatic.

However, it is not yet easy to quantify the benefits of sports marketing. That is true even before considering the benefit to you, the tire dealer who sells the sponsor’s products.

Impressions are one thing. Actual purchases are another. As tracking becomes more sophisticated and we find out the real value of sports marketing, we may have more participation. Or less, depending on the bottom line.

Keep this in mind: that recent SportsBusiness Journal survey ranks the Goodyear brand’s awareness level one percentage point ahead of Falken’s.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is not a sponsor of MLB.  SportsBusiness Journal says Goodyear’s only MLB activation occurs when it provides aerial coverage of a game from one of its blimps.

And it gets paid to do that.    ■

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at

To read more of Bob Ulrich's editorials, see:

Back From the Near Dead: New Jersey Dealers Give It Another Go With My Support

Your Next Great Competitor Is... The Odds Favor Over Sears Automotive

Online Tire Sales: Mandatory Sales Tax Collection Would Even the Odds

Is Our Love Affair With the Car Over?

Related Topics: Bob Ulrich editorial, Editorial, sports marketing

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