Corporate sponsorship is nothing new. From mom-and-pop shops to Fortune 500 companies, they are happy to slap their names in public spaces and call it a day. While what a company chooses to sponsor can give some indication about the company’s values, how it engages in sponsorship can be even more telling — and impactful. Cooper Tires has proven again and again that it isn’t just an American company in name, but in action. Its tires are made in America, but they are also put to work keeping traditions alive, and even proving their industry-leading quality in high-performance competition.
The stereotypical image of an American, even dating back to the 1800s, is a cowboy. The image persists to this day, with ranchers still wearing cowboy boots and hats, and blue jeans available in every clothing store. Instead of horses, though, today’s cowboys ride trucks.
In support of this legacy, Cooper sponsors the annual Professional Bull Riders – Cooper Tires Take the Money and Ride Rodeo, this year in San Jose, CA. But, support doesn’t stop at simply throwing their name on the event. To keep the cowboy spirit alive, Cooper created their own rodeo team to participate in the event: the aptly named “Team Cooper.”
Cooper is one of two tire companies that started in America, and they are keeping that legacy alive in their nod to the cowboy lifestyle.
The American Pastime
Since 2011, Cooper Tires has sponsored professional baseball teams. This year, they are supporting 10 teams from across the nation: the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, and St. Louis Cardinals.
In order to help sports lovers attend, Cooper runs a month-long promotion each year, giving home-game tickets for any one of their sponsored teams to anyone who buys a set of four tires.
With a focus on rodeos and baseball, Cooper is aiming to preserve the heartland’s favorite sports, continuing American traditions.
While supporting sports shows what kind of company Cooper is and what values they support, it doesn’t say much about their actual product. They have historically made and sold their tires in America, but Cooper also goes to great lengths to see that its tires go to work right at home.
By supporting races and offering their tires, the company puts its money where its mouth is. Cooper Tires were the official tire of all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy races, along with providing an official app for the races.
But, while those particular tires are not consumer-grade, tires for The Off-Road Championship (TORC), one of the races Cooper supports, are meant for anyone taking their truck off-road.
While the weekend warrior will be able to tackle off-roading with Discoverer AT3 tires, offering a balance of highway and dirt road driving, the off-road enthusiast can use the Discoverer STT Pro, the newest iteration of what was used in the TORC.
A company must have confidence in their product to subject it to the extreme conditions and public scrutiny that accompanies competitive racing. In the Pro-Light series of the TORC, only tires that can be bought by public are allowed. In 2015, Doug Mittag won the Pro-Light series with off-the-shelf STT Pros, just after the tire was released to the public.
Often, pro off-road racers will add another groove to the tire before the race, but Mittag was short on time. The tires he used are the same any consumer can buy. Luke Johnson, who took second, also used the same tire model. But, the tires he used had already gone through 16 laps in a previous race, showcasing the durability of Cooper tires.
On top of needing confidence in the tires’ performance, Cooper needs to innovate tire technology in order to stay relevant and give racers a competitive edge, which then translates directly to better consumer tire performance. Supporting the races spreads the Cooper Tire name, but also requires a quality tire to back up their support.
By looking at what a company supports, consumers can understand what a company values. Cooper values tradition by supporting rodeos and baseball, classic American pastimes. By supporting races, they show confidence in the performance of their product. Innovation drives better products in order to perform in the races, which directly benefits the consumer.