Sponsorship Spotlight: Toyo Tires

June 2, 2011

MMA Payout had the opportunity to get in touch with Chief Operating Officer Marty Furman of Toyo Tires, USA Corp. He talks about its sponsorship with the UFC and Anthony “Showtime” Pettis.

MP: Where are your headquarters? When was Toyo Tires founded? How many employees?

Toyo: Toyo Tires started back in 1945, in Osaka, Japan.  In 1966, we were the first Japanese tire manufacturer to establish a subsidiary in the United States and we sold commercial truck tires out of Southern California. Now, 45 years later, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. offers a complete line of premium tires including ultra-high performance, luxury touring and eco-friendly tires for passenger cars and crossovers as well as highway, all-terrain and mud-terrain tires for light trucks and SUVs. We still sell commercial tires too.

We are headquartered in Cypress, California with more than 75 employees and our tires are sold across the country by independent tire dealers. Toyo Tires also has a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Bartow County, Georgia, which means many of our tires are made right here in the United States.

MP: What is your specialization/industry? What demographics are you hoping to target with the UFC sponsorship?

Toyo: Our tagline “Driven to Perform” echoes our focus on performance and quality, from our products to our customer service to our activities beyond tires.  It is an important message in our marketing this year.  Through sponsorships and activities like the UFC we want to reach people who are Driven to Perform in life – at work, at play, with their family and in their community. In fact, very soon Toyo will announce a national sponsorship with one of the leading health based research organizations that is really Driven to Perform by finding new cures and treatments for a disease that affects so many people around the world.  Watch for our announcement on Facebook and Twitter.  These people embrace brands that help them to be their best and when it comes to performance on the road it’s Toyo Tires. We feel it isn’t about being a certain age or being a man or a woman, it’s really a frame of mind and an attitude.  We believe the UFC fans are Driven to Perform.

MP: Why did Toyo Tires leave its sponsorship with the UFC in 2008?

Toyo: In early 2009, due to the difficult economic environment we had to reduce costs like most companies in the U.S..  However, we stayed connected to the UFC by supporting a few individual MMA fighters.

MP: What drove the decision to renew its sponsorship with the UFC in 2011? How long is this sponsorship agreement with the UFC?

Toyo: One of our goals in 2011 is to focus on sports, activities and people that we feel exemplify “Driven to Perform.”  UFC has never been far from the minds of our team so when we had the chance to revisit our sponsorships it was high on the priority list; after all, Driven to Perform could be on the wall of every training gym.  We had maintained a great relationship with the staff there so when we called and said we were ready to talk they listened. Here we are, back as Official Tire of the UFC for 2011.

MP: What are the terms of the sponsorship with the UFC?

Toyo: As Official Tire of the UFC, the Toyo Tires logo will be seen on the sides of The Octagon during six live UFC Pay-Per-View events.  In addition, the Toyo Tires logo is included on the canvas for select UFC® Fight Night events broadcast on VERSUS® and Spike TV®.

MP: How did Toyo Tires come to the decision of sponsoring Anthony Pettis? Did Pettis’ representation seek you out or did you seek out Pettis?

Toyo: We have had a long standing relationship with MMA Inc. and have worked with several of their fighters in the past including Urijah Faber and Mark Munoz. Talking with Mike Roberts we felt Anthony was the perfect fit for Toyo – he is a young star in the making who is Driven to Perform and he also happens to love cars.


MP: Do you see Toyo Tires sponsoring other UFC (or Strikeforce) fighters in the future?

Toyo: Definitely. In fact, you caught me on the right day because I am going to let MMAPayout.com in on an exclusive… we just completed a deal to sponsor UFC middleweight Mark Munoz. Munoz will wear Toyo Tires on his fighting shorts when he faces Damien Maia at UFC 131 in Vancouver.  He will also promote our brand through appearances and additional marketing efforts. We look forward to working with him again.

MP: Does Toyo Tires plan other forms of brand activation/promotion with the UFC or Anthony Pettis?

Toyo: Without giving too much away – Yes, we will be doing more with Anthony in the very near future. I encourage fans to keep an eye on the Toyo Tires Facebook page and Twitter account.

MP: You recently launched a social media initiative which includes a Facebook and Twitter page, can you tell us if it will use this to promote the UFC and/or Anthony Pettis?

Toyo: Absolutely! We are promoting all of our activities and partnerships through our Facebook and Twitter pages. It’s all about sharing experiences with our fans.  We are posting pictures from UFC weigh-ins, loading exclusive interviews with our athletes like off-road racer Robby Gordon and congratulating autocross racers who win on Toyos.

In fact, this Saturday we will be tweeting and posting pics from the Official Anthony Pettis After Party at the Palms Hotel and Casino. We are co-presenting it with our friends at FORM Athletics.

MMA fans can also download a cool wallpaper image of Anthony doing his famous kick from www.facebook.com/toyotires. It’s sized for computers and mobile phones.

But in addition to everything we are doing, we want the fans to share too! We want them to share their experiences with their Toyos, post pictures of their cars, talk about the UFC fights – really build a Toyo Tires community. (www.facebook.com/toyotires and www.twitter.com/toyotires)

MP: Has Toyo Tires been able to measure its sponsorship with the UFC so far to determine if it’s receiving a return on its investment? If so, how do you measure the return?

Toyo: The feedback from our dealers and from consumers has been overwhelmingly positive.  We really appreciate the many emails and tweets from fans thanking us for supporting the UFC!

Our dealers are excited that we are involved in a sport that is gaining more and more fans every month. For them, it means more potential customers are seeing the Toyo brand and awareness is growing.

Our employees are also excited. Of course our Sales team receives positive feedback from employees at the dealerships but many of our office employees have their own stories of being at a party, even the dentist, where when they mentioned they work for Toyo Tires people have said, “oh yeah, I’ve seen you on the UFC!” It’s a good feeling for them.

MP: It’s my understanding that Toyo Tires and Form Athletics are working together on promoting Anthony Pettis and Form Athletics is producing his walkout kit for his fight at The Ultimate Fighter Finale. Can you explain how the collaboration came about and how Toyo Tires will be displayed in the kit?

Toyo: We actually met FORM Athletics through MMA Inc. Since then, our marketing teams have collaborated on the fighter gear and the Go Time Twitter promotion which just wrapped up this week. One lucky fan won workout gear signed by Anthony along with a set of Toyo tires. That was our first promotion on Twitter and the response was awesome!

When Pettis walks out this weekend Toyo Tires will be prominently featured on his shorts.  Right now fans can also get an exclusive Pettis/FORM/Toyo Tires t-shirt through MMAWarehouse.com when they purchase $75 or more in FORM gear.

2 Responses to “Sponsorship Spotlight: Toyo Tires”

  1. Tom Love on June 3rd, 2011 12:52 AM

    Would anybody like to speculate on how much Toyo’s, or that of any other official UFC sponsorship, is worth?

    Any figures regarding any sponsorship would be much appreciated.

  2. skylolow on June 7th, 2011 12:31 PM

    Here is an article that is a little old but give you some ideal of what some fighters are making off sponsorship. http://www.fightofthenight.com/featured/ufc-fighters-sponsorship-earnings-revealed-by-mma-agent/

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