Continental Tire is no stranger to non-endemic sports sponsorships—its partnership with Major League Soccer has been paying dividends since 2010. Now, thanks to a host of college basketball partnerships, the brand is extending its presence in the athletic space with a 360-degree campaign aimed at boosting brand visibility and collecting that ever-valuable fan data.
In addition to forging media partnerships with Fox, ESPN, CBS and sportscaster Dan Patrick, Continental has built relationships with 34 college basketball programs over the last three years. And while each sponsorship includes TV ads, courtside signage and ticket packages, it’s the brand’s live experiences that are resonating the most with consumers.
With 35 college basketball games on its calendar this season, Continental is bringing its Plinko activation to fans across the country. Participants begin by answering a few questions, including what kind of vehicle they drive, on a tablet to register for the experience. Based on that information, the brand determines which model of tire best suits their lifestyle and equips them with a hockey puck-shaped version of the tire. Channeling “The Price is Right,” the fan then drops the object down a life-sized Plinko board. Those who get the tire into the Plinko slot that corresponds with the model they originally were matched with win a prize.
It’s a simple activation, but it has helped Continental make authentic connections with scores of basketball fans, says Travis Roffler, director of marketing at Continental Tire. “When we engage with a consumer and they have a meaningful experience with us at an on-site event, they’re 12 times more apt to buy our product—not 12 percent, 12 times more apt to buy our product—because they’re engaging with a brand they truly believe is engaged in the sport that they love.”
In addition to boosting brand awareness, the activation’s data collection component is helping the brand connect with fans long after the final buzzer sounds. Although Continental is judicious about how the data is leveraged—weekly email blasts are a big no-no—the information is helping the brand reconnect with consumers through national email promotions that reinforce Continental’s association with college basketball.
“We’re not the most well-known tire brand in the country,” says Roffler. “But we’ve seen a dramatic step in our brand awareness numbers going up as we were growing our soccer presence and then a substantial step up in awareness after engaging college basketball fans. So it’s definitely about brand awareness… We’re there because we love college basketball, but it is about selling product, too.” Agencies: rEvolution, Chicago; Mozeus, Conyers, GA (data collection).