The NFL has signed Toyota as its first combined car and truck sponsor in a decade, filling a high-value vacancy with one of the biggest advertisers in NFL broadcasts. Toyota becomes the NFL’s “Official Automotive Partner,” a designation that gives it activation rights at the Super Bowl and other league events. It’s already a major media buyer around NFL games, including entitling the halftime show of “Sunday Night Football” since its debut on NBC in 2006.
The deal, whose length was not disclosed, includes cars — both electric and internal combustion — and trucks in the U.S. only. For the NFL, Hyundai last had the car category in a deal that expired in 2019, and Ford’s rights to trucks expired in 2021. General Motors’s rights to both cars and trucks that ended in 2014 was the last combined deal.
It is not yet known what specific assets Toyota will receive, though it will have a presence at NFL events. Toyota North America Group VP and GM David Christ said the sponsorship will allow Toyota and the NFL to better coordinate on shared marketing goals in a way that was not possible through commercials.
“Obviously the activations will be a big part of it, but it’s about aligning our marketing strategies with the areas the NFL is growing,” Christ said. “People of color, we’re very focused about growing our success in the diverse communities, and women and young girls, all are growth areas for the NFL, and we think that aligns well for our marketing plans.”
Toyota’s rights do not include luxury cars, which is still for sale. Toyota’s local dealerships has 11 NFL team deals right now.
Toyota North America Group Manager of Sponsorship Strategy, Integration and Auto Shows Dedra DeLilli spearheaded the negotiations with help from MKTG. MKTG will also be the sports marketing agency on activation. “We do not enter into these partnerships lightly, and when we enter these partnerships, we go all in,” DeLilli said.