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Published: Friday, 10/22/2010

Cooper Tire says it's scored big with sponsorship of TV show

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

For the last seven Saturdays, the most ubiquitous Buckeye on college football highlight shows has been sporting black sidewalls - not scarlet and gray.

For the fourth consecutive year, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. of Findlay has been the title sponsor of the ABC College Football Halftime Show, a must-see for sports enthusiasts from across the country eager to watch highlights from Division I football games.

Saturday marks the first week since Sept. 4 without the Ohio tire manufacturer in the driver's seat on Saturday afternoons, but the title sponsorship is likely to pay dividends for the company for months to come, company officials and marketing experts said.

"From my perspective, it was a huge success," Michele Zeisloft, a Cooper Tire spokesman, said. "It was our fourth year in the halftime sponsorship, and it was extremely successful all four years."

Ms. Zeisloft said measuring the impact of its multimillion-dollar sponsorship in terms of additional sales is "difficult to quantify."

But she said the increased exposure of the Cooper brand makes the sponsorship valuable.

The company said it believes it garnered 36.7 million "impressions" of the Cooper name and logo as a result of the sponsorship, but declined to disclose how much it paid for it.

Cooper is the nation's fourth-largest tire manufacturer, behind Goodyear, Michelin, and Bridgestone/Firestone.

William Chipps, senior editor at IEG Sponsorship Report, which tracks and analyzes corporate sponsorships, said Cooper's continued association with college football is not about bringing the Cooper name into homes, but about introducing it to potential tire buyers before they get to a tire store.

"Tire manufacturers have really increased their use of sponsorships and sports marketing over the last five years outside of traditional tie-ins like racing," Mr. Chipps said. "What they're trying to do is introduce the brand to consumers before they get to the tire store, so they don't just take the recommendation of the guy behind the counter."

Cooper's sponsorship "allows them to align their brand with the passion people have for college sports.

It's almost like an intangible value, but it's the association with this entity that people love, and they're hoping for some positive feedback from that association," Mr. Chipps said.

While Cooper's halftime sponsorship may be over for another season, the company is continuing another promotion aimed squarely at enticing fans of college football.

This year it is sponsoring a promotion called the "Ultimate Bowl Tour" sweepstakes, offering one winner and three friends tickets and private jet rides to five bowl games in January, including the national championship game.

Cooper previously offered the sweepstakes in 2004 and 2005, Ms. Zeisloft said.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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