Toyota’s Demise Offers Greener Pastures for Sponsorship Seekers

I just returned from Detroit and I’ve got some good news.  Because Toyota is in serious trouble, competitors are gearing up for a spring/summer season of robust promotions. This is good news for sponsorship marketing. Budgets are being enriched to take advantage of the fact that Toyota has collided head-on with social responsibility when it failed to act on consumer complaints.

How can you take advantage?

Begin by understanding what automakers need from a sponsorship deal—context. They need to embed their cars into communities of interest to give the brand context. They need events where people can touch and peek into their vehicles. And they need digital interaction. I’m not talking about a list of email addresses or a logo on your website. No. Instead, I want you to think about ways to dynamically engage your community with the automaker’s brand in ways that truly make sense for everyone.

A good example of how to embed an automotive sponsor in ways that are meaningful for everyone is Subaru’s sponsorship of the Philadelphia Flower Show. Subaru puts its name on the Gardener’s Studio—a place where avid gardeners gather for lectures and demonstrations. In this context, Subaru extends its brand to its favorite target: active people who love to learn by doing. The deal is lush with marketing opportunities for Subaru, including vehicle displays woven into the context of the show. Sponsoring the Gardener’s Studio makes them an immediate “good neighbor” to the community of gardeners who gather to learn at what’s considered the world’s finest flower show.

Where should you begin? Visit your local dealership. See what’s being promoted in show rooms. Introduce yourself. Ask questions. If you’re not sure what to ask, do a little homework.

Need more clues? Note which brands are launching or re-staging. They’ll have bigger marketing budgets. For example, Ford unveiled its new Focus at the Detroit auto show and will be promoting it even more aggressively now that Toyota is wobbling. Same for its Taurus brand. VW is looking to promote its clean diesel engine. Look around, ask around and get ready to start your engines. It’s going to be a great season for automotive sponsorship.