Team name on sidewalls: Tire maker eyes college sports fans

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All Sports Tire Co., aiming to spice up a low-excitement category, is betting on sports fans with branded Collegiate Tires that carry college-name mascots on the sidewalls. The Orlando, Fla., outfit initially rolled out in June with products for the University of Florida and Florida State, but added three other schools in late October-the universities of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.

The tires are for "the ultimate fan," said Bob McChesney, president of All Sports. He said he expects to add three more colleges by year's end, reaching a total of 30 schools within 18 to 24 months. All Sports distributes the tires to retailers and creates and buys local media for much of the product advertising. The in-house TV, print and radio executions that have been given to retailers feature ex-University of Florida football coach Steve Spurrier. All the local ads end with the tag: "Only the most loyal fans ride on our tires."

All Sports is also hawking the tires at college football games where it hands out flyers and displays its wares on a Ford F-150 pickup and Ford Expedition SUV. "This kind of product people have to see to reinforce what it is and where you buy them," said Mr. McChesney.

All Sports contracted Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. to make the tires for the most popular pickup and sport utility truck sizes, which the marketer said covers 70% of its target. The tires retail for roughly $10 to $15 more per tire than traditional products, Mr. McChesney said, but the schools get a cut of the action in licensing fees for each tire sold. He declined to reveal those specifics as well as unit sales or targets, saying only Goodyear has already produced more than 20,000 of the specialty tires. That figure, however, is still small. By comparison Goodyear sold 55 million tires in the second quarter of this year globally.

approval process

Each new school tire needs to win approval from the Collegiate Licensing Co., which represents roughly 200 colleges and universities and the NCAA and individual athletic conferences like the South Eastern Conference and Big 12. Consumers spent an estimated $2.65 billion for collegiate-branded goods at retail in 2003, said a spokeswoman there. Apparel is the largest category, but non-apparel is growing rapidly, she added.

In addition to tire retailers, the tires are sold online at

All Sports' Chairman-CEO Tom Kopplin, who spent 29 years in various sales jobs at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., said "we have created another reason for a person to buy a particular tire and to feel good about the purchase."

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