Football In, Motorsport Out at Kumho
Sport sponsorship is gaining popularity, and the tyre industry is no exception to this rule. While tyre manufacturers used to snatch up motorsport deals and then report the transference of know how and technology gleaned from racetrack experience to their on-road products, these days sponsorship of other sporting codes, such as football, basketball or golf, are increasingly playing a part in manufacturers’ marketing strategies. Now Kumho Europe also intends to follow this path. While the Korean tyre maker is currently still considering if and under which conditions its partnership with Manchester United should be extended, some Kumho people are not convinced of the deal’s benefit within Continental Europe and for this reason the company plans to begin a similar arrangement as premium partner to a team in Germany’s national football league, the Bundesliga. Speaking with Tyres & Accessories, Kumho Germany marketing manager Wolf Fuder said that negotiations to this effect are currently ongoing and therefore the company is not yet in a position to name which team it would enter such a deal with. Kumho would not, however, act as jersey sponsor.
Fuder also confirmed the company’s decision to end its nine-year participation in the Formula 3 Euro Series at the end of the new season. The single-seater race series is held as part of the German Touring Car Masters (DTM), which as of the new season will be exclusively supplied by Kumho’s Korean competitor, Hankook. In addition to supplying tyres, Hankook advertising will be displayed at the racing circuits; in such a setting its makes no sense for Kumho to participate. A successor to Kumho as exclusive supplier of the Formula 3 Series has yet to be named; the 2011 season begins in April. In addition, Kumho has not yet decided whether it will also end its involvement in the “Masters of Formula 3” at the end of the year when its current contract expires. All in all, it looks doubtful that Kumho will take on any new motorsport engagements in Europe at present.
This change in strategy in Europe has been mirrored in the US, where the Korean tyre maker recently announced that in future its focus will be upon sports marketing, and while it will not completely withdraw from its motorsport activities it will not enter any new “professional motorsport” sponsorship deals.