Shift Into High Gear

MLY and Santa Cruz team with the auto industry

“Forget the financing, what kind of board does the car come with?”

When snowboarders go looking for cars this winter, they’ll have more options to consider than just power windows. In recently announced deals Santa Cruz and Ford as well as MLY and Toyota have teamed up to break into new areas of marketing for their companies.

“It’s a bigger relationship than, 'Hey let’s just sell some boards,'” says Mark Miller, marketing manager of MLY, about a partnership between Toyota and MLY Snowboards where anyone purchasing a new RAV-4 or 4-Runner receives a new MLY snowboard, Emery bindings, and MLY board bag. The specially designed board will have MLY graphics on top and Toyota graphics on the bottom. Starting in January, the program will be offered at dealers located in the Northwest region that includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Utah.

Miller thinks this is the start of a lot more things to come: “We want to walk before we run,” he says. MLY wants to see how successful the campaign is, but Miller hopes the Northwest territory is the first of what may become six regions in the future.

In a similar deal, Santa Cruz has teamed up with Ford for a statewide California promotion. Last year the companies teamed up in the Northern California region, but have expanded statewide this year. With the sale of every 4×4 during the months of December, January, and February, buyers will receive a free special-edition Santa Cruz snowboard. The 230 Ford dealers will offer a 158 cm board featuring Santa Cruz’s best-selling graphic, the Stinger, along with custom Ford colors.

The relationships have mutual benefits for all involved. The deals give the snowboard brands marketing power far beyond anything they could achieve by themselves. “The possibilities are limitless, depending on how national it goes,” says Miller. There will be a television campaign, but the specifics were not available at press time.

According to Rebecca Herath, Santa Cruz marketing coordinator, “We’ll get TV exposure we’d never be able to afford with this program.” The TV advertising used by Ford will use action footage by FLF Films featuring Santa Cruz riders such as Darren Cingle and Tracy Latzen. Creative input was welcomed by Ford and as Herath puts it, “We told them they absolutely can not use the word shred.”

For Toyota and Ford, the deal lets them reach a targeted demographic and provides an opportunity to improve brand images and increase sales in the youth market.

Herath says retailers will be enthusiastic about the promotion because it will broaden public awareness of the Santa Cruz name: “Most people who buy our boards are people who already ride our product and are familiar with the brand. This program draws more beginners.”

For Toyota and MLY the deal came about after company presidents went golfing together, and ended up discussing boards between bogeys. Both companies also give each other special purchase plans for their employees. In addition to the products promotion, Toyota will also be sponsoring Vegetate, an ecological benefit, snowboard contest, and concert at Mount Hood Meadows, Oregon, held next spring.

-Robyn Hakes and Aaron Checkwood