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Toyota still sponsors its share of traditional stick and ball sports, but the car company has seen how action sports appeal to youth and wants to be part of the scene.
So Toyota's name will be visible all around the sporting venue being set up in the Salt Lake City streets and parking lots around EnergySolutions Arena, testimony to its role as title sponsor of this week's stop on the summer Dew Tour.
"As the country and the culture diversifies, so do their interest in sports," said Paul Czaplicki, Toyota's marketing manager, explaining the company's reason for getting behind the Dew Tour and its competition in skateboarding, BMX and motocross.
"So we're diversifying our marketing portfolio, connecting with consumers. Hopefully they'll be spending a lot of money on autos in the future," he said. "We're tapping into the interests and passions of these people, who we might not have been able to reach with traditional sports."
Salt Lake City is a particularly appealing venue stop for Toyota as well as Dew Tour organizers and other corporate sponsors because of its youthful demographics and sizable crowds at past renditions of the games.
As Utah Sports Commission director Jeff Robbins noted, just under 60,000 people attended last September's event in Salt Lake City. That's great for organizers, who can show other potential sponsors how receptive the community is to these high-flying sports.
But it also benefits the state. Robbins said last year's event directly generated more than $10 million for Utah's economy. Fifty-eight hours of television coverage in 50 countries and numerous written articles are expected to yield another $7 million to $8 million worth of free publicity, he added.
"It's great to have these [Dew Tour] guys back along with some of the top sports action athletes in the world," Robbins said, especially proud that Utah is the only place that stages both summer and winter Dew Tour events.
The Winter Dew Tour stop, known as the Toyota Championship, will take place Feb. 10-13 at Snowbasin Resort above Ogden.
Chris Prybylo, general manager for both tours, said a mutually beneficial relationship has blossomed since the tour's organizing company Alli, the Alliance of Action Sports hooked up with the Utah Sports Commission several years ago.
"We try to provide a great platform, great media to market Utah as the state of sports," Prybylo said. In return, the Sports Commission has ensured that organizers receive the support they need from local governments and business officials, eliminating many of the logistical nightmares that often arise in putting together big events.
"If we ever have an issue, they have all the right connections to get it resolved," he said. "And they know the market. They help us to figure how to market to the community."
Toyota has a number of approaches to making connections with the public come Dew Tour time.
Two athletes it sponsors, Bob Burnquist and Jamie Bestwick, are available often to sign autographs.
Even more fun is the chance to record a video with one of those athletes in the Corolla Eyeboogie. Fans are superimposed into a video of a fun activity involving the athletes. There's a fan photo booth, posters by action sports artist Jimbo Phillips and an Ollie Meter that measures how much participants let their "inner freak" out.
All are part of what Toyota calls Adrenaland, said Czaplicki, a play of words that reflects the adrenaline-inducing thrills of action sports.
Toyota also emphasizes environmental sensitivity in its promotions, he added, citing the younger generation's interest in "green" issues.
"That's a cool thing to find. It speaks well to the future of our country," Czaplicki said.
Dew Tour Ticket information
Grounds pass is $15 for adults, $7.50 for children, $40 for a two-adult, two-child family pass or $50 for four adult passes. Reserved seating is $35 for adults and children or $120 for four adult reserved passes. Action pass offers best seats in the house for $100, adult or child.
Source: Alli (Alliance of Action Sports)