This was the second big splash that Turbo Tire has made this year: Earlier it combined operations with Tire Wholesalers Inc. (TWI) under a common management structure designed to support additional growth.
The move seems like a perfect fit for a company trying to draw attention — and sales — to its value-tier brand portfolio. While women are the intended marketing target, the now 60-year-old Ireland likely will rekindle memories for men who are part of the demographic that ultimately will purchase Lexani's performance-oriented products.
Tire companies, perhaps more than any other industry, find a way to market themselves either through conventional or unusual opportunities.
While sponsorship of mainstream and lesser racing circuits are a huge slice of tire marketing, tire makers both big and small rely on similar icons to continue or increase brand awareness.
Michelin has Bibendum, the Michelin Man known globally. Bridgestone has his flag firmly planted as a Worldwide Olympic Partner, as well as the official tire of the NFL, the most popular sport in the U.S. in terms of viewership.
Continental and its brands market in a variety of traditional and non-traditional ways, including college basketball, professional soccer and professional women's basketball sponsorships. Conti's General brand is a primary sponsor of, among others, a professional fishing organization, pushing fans to buy General Tires for their light trucks.
Hankook and Kumho have aligned themselves with Major League Baseball and the NBA, respectively, in an effort to become more mainstream. Others, including Pirelli, Nexen and BKT, have invested in soccer.
But like Turbo Tire, some smaller brands have cleverly found niche marketing opportunities to draw attention to their brands. They include:
• Fortune Tires/Prinx Chengshan, professional pickleball and three-person ice hockey;
• CEAT, rodeo;
• BKT, Monster Jam and women's professional curling;
• Nexen, NHL teams in Chicago and Anaheim, Calif.;
• Nokian, selected ski resorts;
• Apollo, ski racing; and
• Toyo, professional mixed martial arts.
While some of these sponsorships will be short-term endeavors, others will remain for years to come.
In fact, in two years Goodyear will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its blimp.
Talk about a lot of hot air that is paying big dividends.