ORLANDO, Fla. (May 24, 2004) – Are you ready for Florida Gators or Georgia Bulldogs tires? A new marketing group in Orlando thinks the market is and has struck a deal with Goodyear to have tires made with college sports teams names in raised outline white letter tires.
All Sports Tire Co. L.L.C., the initiative of former Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. executive Tom Kopplin, is hoping to tap into the “rabid fanaticism and buying power” of college sports followers by developing tire lines bearing collegiate sports team names.
The firm, based in Orlando, already has shipped tires bearing the names Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles and is working with distributors to handle Georgia Bulldogs, Tennessee Volunteers and Alabama Crimson Tide tires, Mr. Kopplin said.
Barron's Wholesale Tires in Jacksonville, Fla., is handling the first two lines, Mr. Kopplin said. Barron's also lists the tires on its selecttire.com Internet marketing Web site.
All Sports Tire plans to expand the program to distributors in markets where the top 30 college teams are active.
“We have created another reason for a person to buy a particular tire… and to feel good about the purchase,” said Mr. Kopplin, who spent 26 years in various sales positions with Cooper. “On the sidewall of these tires, we present an opportunity for that person to proudly show off their favorite team's name, wherever he goes.”
All Sports Tire estimates fans spend nearly $3 billion annually on college-licensed merchandise, such as T-shirts, flags, license plate covers, etc.
Goodyear is making the tires—essentially versions of the Kelly Safari light truck/SUV line—at its Fayetteville, N.C., plant. All Sports Tire is offering five sizes initially—one 15-, three 16- and one 17-inch sizes—that cover 70 percent of the targeted market, Mr. Kopplin said.
The tires will be available primarily through distributors and tire retailers, Mr. Kopplin said, although All Sports Tire is discussing the possibility of having them available through Goodyear retail outlets. The firm also is looking at mareketing through new car dealers as new vehicle purchase “changeovers.”
All Sports Tire licenses the use of the college names through Collegiate Licensing Co. (CLC), a firm that assists collegiate licensors in protecting and controlling the use of their logos through trademark licensing. The CLC consortium comprises more than 180 universities, bowl games, conferences, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Heisman Trophy.
Kopplin has attracted financing from legendary professional golfer Arnold Palmer, former United Airlines Chairman Richard Ferris and Charles Mechem, former commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association.