Toyota Motor Corp. is putting U.S. Figure Skating and U.S. Speedskating under its sponsorship umbrella for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The move to support two popular winter sports expands Toyota’s ties to the Olympics that began in 2015, when it was the first automaker to sign on as a 10-year sponsor for the global games.
The automaker reportedly paid $835 million to become one of 11 companies with exclusive worldwide marketing rights under The Olympic Partner, or TOP, program.
Toyota is also adding two new members to Team Toyota -- Gus Kenworthy, a silver medalist in men’s freestyle slopestyle skiing, and Torin Yater-Wallace, the winner of the men’s halfpipe skiing event at last month’s Toyota Grand Prix -- as part of an alliance with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association forged earlier this year.
“Team Toyota is kind of a wide-ranging platform for us, it branches from the Martin Truex Jrs. of the world to our bass fishermen,” said Nick Ammazzalorso, marketing communications manager for Toyota USA. “It will include some sort of support for them, specifically above and beyond what we’re doing with their team.”
Team Toyota already has several Olympic hopefuls, including 16-year-old snowboarding champion Chloe Kim, on board. In 2016, Kim became a brand ambassador for the Toyota RAV4 crossover and Prius hybrid.
Toyota previously sponsored U.S. Hockey with a primary focus on supporting youth programs. The company is strengthening that relationship by adding Olympic and Paralympic programs.
“It’s a partnership with a financial outlay from us. One of the focuses is the Learn to Skate USA program,” Ammazzalorso said.
The U.S. teams involved with Toyota endorse Learn to Skate USA, a national organization that provides skating lessons through local programs.
Toyota has not yet a signed deal with the United States Olympic Committee, but Ammazzalorso is hopeful.
Toyota’s marketing plans for the 2018 Winter Olympics are still in the works.