Firestone To Get Top Billing In New MLB Deal

Bridgestone Firestone has focused sports sponsorships on its Bridgestone brand. Now the company will give Firestone--which the company heretofore reserved for motorsports branding--the spotlight with a new deal with Major League Baseball.

Firestone's agreement with Fox Sports Network gives the brand advertising room during opening day and opening week festivities. The tire brand will also be the presenting sponsor of 25 MLB teams featured on Fox Sports Network, and will have print ad inserts in the programs for the MLB All-Star Game, the National League Championship Series, the American League Championship Series and the World Series.

Print will include game-day programs and yearbooks of all 29 continental U.S. MLB teams. The company says it will also get air time on billboards during televised games and highlighted in a custom, animated Fox Box "Leaders" feature.

Sibling Bridgestone has a much broader sports presence, as official brand of the National Hockey League, the NFL, Super Bowl and NFL Pro Bowl, presenting sponsor of the NFL International Series Game, and official tire of the PGA Tour, among other things.



Firestone brand is promoted strongly at the Indianapolis 500, the IndyCar Series and IndyPro Series.

Phil Pacsi, VP/North American consumer tire marketing, says the move puts the Firestone brand beyond motorsports sponsorships for the first time in years. "Our sports marketing initiatives began with the Firestone brand in 1909. The way we have positioned it is as a rich American heritage brand; it's a natural fit because when you think of Americana, you think baseball."

Dallas-based Richards Group is handling both creative and media duties that put Firestone into opening day. Pacsi says the agency will also be involved in air traffic control to ensure that Bridgestone and Firestone don't cross paths during MLB broadcasts. "You will see some Bridgestone advertising on Major League Baseball as well, but Firestone will be front-loaded in the season, taking us through beginning of June and up to the All-Star Game break. Bridgestone may be sporadic buys within that, but more consistently throughout the year," he says.

"The point really is to reinforce the Firestone brand to a demographic that is very loyal already; it's really going out and reminding people about the brand."

Separately, office equipment maker Ricoh has re-upped for a fifth year with the league in a deal that gives Ricoh entry to pre-, post- and in-game broadcasts through this year's season. Ricoh will sponsor MLB games on Fox Sports Net, the Yes Network, SportsNet NY and other regional sports networks. Ricoh will reinforce its "I am Your Idea" campaign with three 30-second spots that highlight color products and a line of printers, copiers and multifunction products.

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