CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jan. 17, 2003)—For its promotion of the inaugural Continental Tire Bowl on Dec. 28, Continental Tire North America Inc. chose the catchphrase: “It's not just another bowl game, it's the Continental Tire Bowl”—a play on its tire-marketing slogan.
Judging by the event's outcome, it wasn't just another marketing campaign, either. “It was a huge success on many different levels,” Conti said.
“We agreed to sponsor the Continental Tire Bowl for several reasons,” said Mike Barker, vice president of passenger and light truck tire sales and marketing.
The firm's marketing team, he explained, was looking for an event that would not only represent the company but would “act as a springboard for the Continental brand while supporting our hometown of Charlotte. Sponsoring a college football bowl game was a new experience and a departure from more mainstream media.”
Conti used the game, held before 73,000 fans in Charlotte, to generate greater exposure for the Continental tire brand and involved employees and tire dealers in the promotion, Mr. Barker said.
The University of Virginia beat West Virginia University, 48-22, in the game.
Beyond the media exposure generated by the game, the tire maker heavily promoted the event in Charlotte, where Continental has its headquarters, he said. This included hanging banners from streetlight poles and posting signage in area bars and restaurants.
Throughout the city the company also placed billboards—featuring Conti employees posing as football players—that touted the bowl game.
Inside the stadium, the Continental Tire Bowl logo was displayed on the center of the playing field and on the roofs of the tunnels leading from the players' locker rooms.
Conti also had brand signage throughout the stadium and the company received frequent mentions by the game announcer over the public address system.
To engage employees in the bowl game, Conti provided them with Continental Tire Bowl bumper stickers and license plate frames. And for those employees who placed them on their vehicles, their names were placed in a hat to win free tickets to the game. In all, more than 300 employees attended the contest with their families and friends.
Conti also invited a number of its tire dealers to the festivities. “We don't think it could have worked out any better,” Mr. Barker said of the event.
The real success of the game, he noted, will be determined by tire sales. “But one thing is certain,” he added. “More people know about the Continental brand today.”
Conti plans to sponsor the bowl game again next year.