Are you ready for Florida Gators or Georgia Bulldogs tires?
A new marketing group in Orlando thinks consumers are and has struck a deal with Goodyear to have tires made with college sports teams' names in raised outline white letters.
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 already has shipped tires bearing the names Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles and is working with distributors in the Southeast 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 www.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.
All Sports Tires and Goodyear are even talking about putting an image of a school mascot on the sidewall-perhaps in the school's colors, 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 marketing through new-car dealerships as new vehicle purchase ``changeovers.''
Tire dealers should benefit twice from the sale of a set of collegiate tires, Mr. Kopplin said: First from the revenue from the sale and secondly by getting a set of high-mileage used tires in exchange.
Mr. Kopplin said the cost of making the mold sideplates for a new name is about $50,000.
All Sports Tire licenses the use of the college names through Collegiate Licensing Co., 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.
Mr. 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.