Toyota Joins Ny Marathon Fuse

by : Kaye Leery

A runner will not probably want to encounter a car, but maker, Toyota, targets to have close encounters with thousands of runners in two marathons that will take place on the streets of New York.

In order to become an exclusive auto sponsor at both the ING New York City Marathon and the NYC Half Marathon presented by Nike, the giant Japanese automaker has signed a three-year deal. Financial terms were closed and the company will feature its hybrid platform, including the Prius, Highlander SUV and Camry Hybrid, through regional TV and print, on- and off-course signage as well as operational usage such as transporting athletes and officials. Aside form a money prize, both the men's and women's winner at the ING New York City Marathon will receive a Prius.

The alliance will activate in support of the NYC Half Marathon presented by Nike which will take place on August 5. The ING New York City Marathon will be happen on Nov. 4, and the previous car sponsor was DaimlerChrysler's Smart micro compact in 2005.

Bryan Riss, Toyota's vehicle operations manager for New York region said that Prius is their glamorous hybrid and it gets the most attention from the Hollywood crowd but they want to support their whole hybrid line. He added that Toyota's long-term plan is to have a hybrid for each model the company builds, and that this alliance will help make more consumers aware of their hybrids. Also sponsoring the New York Marathon is Avis and said it would include Prius as a car rental option starting this summer.

Ann Hinegardner, svp-business development and marketing strategies at New York Road Runners, which monitors both marathons and several other running events year-round, said that the car category is very important to the marathon, and signing Toyota is in line with their commitment to the environment as well as to health. According to her, Toyota plans a full activation now through November.

Tour's Third Time

The AST Dew Tour will have several new strategies in place as it enters its third season this week: Louisville, Denver and San Jose have been replaced by Baltimore, Salt Lake City and Cleveland as tour stops; MTV has been added to the media mix; and the tour name itself has changed from the Dew Action Sports Tour but Pepsi's Mountain Dew remains title sponsor and all lead sponsors at the five venues are back.

The schedule began with the Panasonic Open in Baltimore in June 21-24 and runs through the PlayStation Pro in Orlando on October 18 to 21 featuring top action sports athletes in BMX, motocross and skateboarding contesting for points and monetary prizes.

Wade Martin, president and general manager at the AST Dew Tour, Aurora, Ill, said that this was the first part of their strategy to build AST [Action Sports Tour] as an umbrella brand that will be comprised with other events. He added that they want AST to become what NASCAR is to its fans and consumers. Martin further said that AST has plans include a U.S. winter action sports tour and global events.

Outlets such as NBC and USA Network (event coverage), Fuel TV (previews and reviews), FSN radio, VOD in a potential of 30 million homes and iTunes will be the avenues through which the tour will reach people. Two behind-the-scenes shows and features prior to each tour event are new this year on MTV and MTV2. Attendance last was about 250,000, which is up 15,000 from the inaugural tour. The AST Dew Tour is owned by NBC Universal and Live Nation.

Martin said that the challenge in their 3rd year will be the same challenge in their 10th year that is getting more people to attend in person, watch or access the events and support their sponsors. The Right Guard Open (Cleveland, July 19-22), Vans Invitational (Portland, Ore., Aug. 16-19) and the Toyota Challenge (Salt Lake City, Sept. 20-23) are other tour stops.