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Not just for sports

Pirelli and rally



From motorsports to national and international football, not to mention the Olympic Games, in an attempt to raise brand awareness and become the first choice for the end customer

Paolo Ferrini

Communicating the qualities of a tire to the end user, has never been easy. Not particularly attractive to look at and apparently similar, tires have little or no technological content familiar to the vast majority of consumers who lack any appreciable understanding about compounds and tread designs and probably are not very interested in knowing anyway. Therefore, what manufacturers need to do is focus their marketing strategies on the brand itself, in order to create a successful image around it which, at the time of purchase should somehow make the difference in the choice between this or that product.


Motorsports take the lion’s share

Since the beginning, two and four wheel motor racing proved the natural setting for the above mentioned strategies. Here, in fact, the axiom that the maximum imaginable commitment to performance is the best test bench for quality and consequently the tire that wins is the best, has always been valid. However, while epic comparisons between multiple tire suppliers were once the norm, today we must make a distinction between manufacturers who engage in competitions open to more than one tire manufacturer - such as, for example, the World Endurance Championship (WEC), with the Le Mans 24 Hours being its crown-jewel (with Michelin steadily topping the standings since 1998) - ensuring that we, the spectators, enjoy the intriguing battle between different technologies, and competitions with an exclusive supplier.

In the category international “mono-tire” championships we find the three top formulas (F1-F2-F3) which are reserved to Pirelli, just as MotoGP is a Michelin feud, while Moto2 and Moto3 are traditionally Dunlop territory. On the other hand, SuperBike and motocross belong to Pirelli once again. Furthermore, Michelin, with an eye always fixed on the future, secured its rights as exclusive supplier in Formula E (electrically powered single-seaters), just as Firestone has been featuring on Indycar single-seaters for years. Still in the United States, Goodyear, following a successful thirty-year presence in Formula 1, is now the traditional supplier of the popular NASCAR series. Not to be outdone, Yokohama and Hankook have focused on touring car championships: the first as the exclusive supplier of the World (WTCC) and European (ETCC) Touring championships, the latter of the famous German DTM series. Pirelli happens to be also the exclusive supplier in the Italian Granturismo Championship and the Ferrari and Lamborghini mono-brand challenges, just like Michelin is the exclusive supplier in the Porsche Carrera Cup.

And, yes you guessed it, Michelin and Pirelli feature as main protagonists also in international rallies, with the French company equipping all the cars that compete in the top classes leaving the Italian company to equip the cars in all other categories. Things are quite different in the Italian championship with both companies clashing; Michelin equips, for example, the Skoda Fabia driven by Giandomenico Basso and Pirelli the Citroen C3 of Luca Rossetti, the Ford Fiesta of Simone Campedelli and the Skoda Fabia of Andrea Crugnola. Two additional Italian single-make championships, Peugeot and Suzuki are supported by Pirelli and Toyo Tires respectively. Last but not least, Avon, Cooper and DMack divided international rally-cross competitions among themselves, with the Italian series sponsored by Toyo Tires from this year.


Football calling

The second largest "hunting grounds" for tire makers and their marketing teams is football, possibly the best sounding board thanks to its enormous impact on a vast and heterogeneous audience. Here, too, a few distinctions are a must. Some are "main sponsors" of this or that club (featuring chest-high and in large print on the team’s jerseys), others appear in smaller spaces (the sleeves, for example) while still others shine through LED advertising banners and traditional billboards on the sidelines. Hankook, on the other hand, chose to be among the main sponsors of a championship like the UEFA Europa League.

Moving on to clubs, Pirelli is the main sponsor of FC Internazionale Milan and as such appears with its brand on the first jersey and with its network Driver on the second jersey, much in the same fashion as Yokohama does with Chelsea. Davanti, Kumho and Nexen, feature on the sleeves of clubs such as Everton, Bayer 04 Leverusen and Manchester City respectively.

In recent years, the market for banners on the sidelines has been particularly lively. Falken is very active from this point of view and during the 2019-2020 football season, as many as 18 different clubs in Germany, England, France, Poland, Spain, Belgium will feature the company’s logo on the sidelines of their respective fields, and in Italy this will happen for Lazio, Roma and Torino when playing at home. No less qualifying is the presence of the Chinese producer Linglong in the stadiums of Juventus and Wolfburg, two teams notoriously close to two important automotive groups FCA and VW, while Hankook will feature in Napoli’s stadium, Davanti in Bologna, Yokohama in Brescia and Tomket in Florence, the home town of Fiorentina.


More than football and engines

From the most popular sport in the world to one of no less tradition: cycling. Since 2018 Continental has been the proud sponsor of the Giro d'Italia, considered the ideal platform to promote a culture of safety in the world of bicycles, an increasingly popular way of getting around and a gateway to "shared-mobility". It is no coincidence that, in addition to producing premium tires, Continental develops technologies and electronic components, aimed at making vehicles clean and intelligent, as well as connected infrastructure for the benefit of all road users. “Chase Your Dream, No Matter What” is Bridgestone's motivational campaign designed to inspire  everyone to believe in themselves in reaching their goals, despite the obstacles they may find. Three Italian Olympic athletes support the Japanese group in this ideal journey: Gianmarco Tamberi, Gregorio Paltrinieri and Valeria Straneo who, through dreams, difficulties and goals still to be reached, relate how they managed to stay focused and accomplished their dreams.

Toyo Tires has been supporting athletics for some time now and - after having already sponsored the 2017 World Championships in London and the 2018 European Championships held in Berlin – last September, the Japanese group announced its collaboration with the Italian Athletics Federation (FIDAL). The agreement is part of a wider international program that for a couple of years now and until 2023 has tied Toyo Tires to athletics as an Official Partner with exclusive rights for the tire sector at major European events.


And now the manufacturers

"We are proud to have undertaken, as Top Partners, this journey with the international Olympic movement in order to actively support society as a whole and the people who follow their dreams," says Stefano Parisi, vice-president of Bridgestone EMEA South Region. «The commitment of the largest tire company in the world will involve hundreds of millions of people starting from the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Winter Olympics in Beijing 2022 until the Olympic Games in 2024. Our campaign will be active on innovative digital platforms and in numerous events dedicated to the general public with particular attention to future generations”.

«The collaboration with the Italian Cycling Tour represents for Continental a unique opportunity to spread a safety culture on the road and raise public awareness on the issue of sharing-mobility starting right from the cyclists, a strongly penalized category within urban contexts »says Alessandro De Martino, managing director of Continental Italia. "That's why, using the words that summarize the claim we created for this sponsorship, Continental is “Safety Partner of the Giro, Safety Sponsor of the road".

"Becoming part of the Juventus family is a great honour for us," commented Wang Feng, president of Linglong Tire at the time of announcing the agreement with Juventus. «With this agreement, we strengthen our position in the market and we have the possibility to reach over 300 million Juventus fans. We will develop promotions dedicated to the many fans and consumers present in Asia and in the rest of the world, also working to improve Linglong's influence globally”.

«Athletics and Toyo Tires share a multitude of common goals and values. Competing, rather than just beating someone, means giving the best of oneself »said Fabio Merli, president of Toyo Tires Italia, announcing that the company is studying a series of marketing initiatives dedicated to Fidal/Runcard members and club. "The over 200,000 Italian athletes represented by FIDAL are very different in terms of the sport they practice and level of success, but they share the common goal of promoting and celebrating performance".

Tires Italia, exclusive importer of Davanti Tires in our country, confirmed its collaboration with Bologna Football Club also for the 2019-2020 season, in which, according to  agreement, the visibility of the brand during all the home games played at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara will be guaranteed by LED perimeter advertising boards. "It was vital to give continuity to this "partnership" which I consider strategic for the growth and penetration of our brand in the national territory", commented Aldo Ercole, CEO of Tires Italy "Football remains the most followed sport in Italy and therefore the communication tool par excellence. All that’s left is to cheer Bologna on! ».

“Football is a great opportunity for our company”, echoes Markus Bögner, president of Falken Tire Europe “because it combines performance and passion, the core values of our brand. We have been involved in the highest level of European football since 2014 and have benefited from the great presence in the media”.

"We are delighted about signing this collaboration with Bayer 04 Leverkusen, as the club is synonymous with reliability, ambition and international prestige," says Jun Ro Song, managing director of KumhoTire Europe GmbH. “These are decisive criteria for our partnerships in sports. We hope to significantly increase the recognition of our brand with the help of this partnership. As an official Premium Partner, this year KumhoTires will not only feature on LED perimeter advertising systems, but also in the TV area of the BayArena where two 3D panels with Kumho brand are visible and in the digital scoreboard that will also carry the KumhoTires logo. The sponsorship package also includes the possibility of hosting Kumho customers and the presence in the club's media activities, including website and social media”.

"We are pleased to retain Manchester City's Official Sleeve Partner title for the third consecutive season," says Travis Kang, NexenTire's global CEO. «Our company has actively supported Manchester City over the years, accompanying the team in Premier League victories. We are determined to create greater synergy with the Club, focusing on on-going success with the "Citizens".

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