Toyota is a brand that is heavily involved in sports marketing. It is a force in NASCAR, is naming rights holder of the Houston Rockets home court (Toyota Center), and is a sponsor of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” telecasts. But, Toyota’s tiniest association with sports may be its most innovative. Toyota rolled out a concept called the Tiny Football League (TFL) that is integrated into its sponsorship of the halftime show on “Sunday Night Football” and supported with a web and social media presence.
The TFL is a lighthearted take on the world of youth football. The TFL website invites youth teams to add photos, stories, and videos. Toyota is running a contest in conjunction with the TFL initiative in which 8 youth teams will receive $5,000 each, and a team selected by fan voting will receive a $10,000 donation. Criteria used to judge teams include evidence of teamwork, determination, and constant improvement.
At a time when it has become very expensive to be associated with top tier sports properties, Toyota’s foray into football via the TFL is brilliant. Toyota enjoys the best of both worlds. On one hand, its tie-in with the NFL via NBC’s Sunday night broadcasts give it the exposure a national brand like Toyota seeks. For Toyota, linking its presence in football to grassroots programs allows the company to show concern for local communities. The potential payoff in terms of how consumers perceive Toyota because of the Tiny Football League may be far greater than a more costly investment as an official sponsor of a major league sports property.
Football is the number one sport in the U.S., but there are ways to be associated with America’s favorite game other than an expensive sponsorship rights deal. Toyota’s TFL is a great example of how to link a brand with consumers’ interests in a creative way, one that taps into the benefits of sponsorship without the typical level of financial commitment.
Marketing Daily – “Toyota Talks Tiny Football in Corporate NFL Push”