Looking to separate itself from other tire manufacturers using sports marketing, Yokohama Tire Corp. has replaced deals with professional sports teams in favor of properties where it is the only tire brand.

That includes endurance sports, action sports and youth soccer.

The North American manufacturing and marketing arm of Tokyo, Japan-based The Yokohama Rubber Co. this year has signed new partnerships with Spartan Race, Nitro Circus and US Youth Soccer.

“We are trying to find spaces that aren’t overly crowded. We’re looking for properties where we can stand out and be the sole tire supplier,” said Andrew Briggs, Yokohama vice president of marketing and product management.

Yokohama has not entirely moved away from professional sports, said Briggs, noting that the company still sponsors the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a property located near its Santa Ana, Calif. headquarters.

“Live sports are one of the last bastions where someone doesn’t fast-forward through commercial breaks. There’s still value there, but when five tire brands are exposed to you during a television broadcast, it becomes a challenge.”

Yokohama’s Geolander tire line plays a key role in the sponsorship strategy. The company this year launched new highway-terrain and mud-terrain tires as part of the light truck tire line, with additional products slated for 2018.

“Geolander is an important piece of our overall consumer product mix.”

Yokohama partnered with Spartan Race to promote shared attributes of strength and endurance (the company activates the obstacle course races with the “Yokohama Tire Flip”), while it sponsors Nitro Circus to reach motorsports enthusiasts, a demographic that is loyal to brands that support their interests.

Yokohama also is using motorsports to support the Geolander line. The company recently signed new deals with two off-road races in Mexico: The Yokohama Mexican 1000, a five-day, 1,300-mile ride through the Baja peninsula, and the Yokohama Sonora Rally, an off-road rally in the Sonora desert.

Social media plays a key role in Yokohama’s activation strategy. The company this summer leveraged Nitro Circus with the “Get Trucked Up Giveaway” that offered fans the chance to win a customized 2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Crew Cab 4X4 equipped with Geolander M/T G003 mud-terrain tires.

Yokohama displayed the truck at all 20 Nitro Circus events around the country, with Nitro Circus co-founder Travis Pastrana and FMX rider Blake “Bilko” Williams and BMX rider James Foster announcing the winner on Facebook Live.

Yokohama also uses sponsorship to engage independent tire dealers and wholesalers, all of whom sell and/or distribute tires from multiple manufacturers. The company engages the trade channels with behind the experiences, coupon distribution, jersey giveaways and other promotions designed to drive retail traffic.

“Getting dealers excited is half the battle,” said Briggs.

Yokohama sponsors US Youth Soccer to support The Yokohama Rubber Co.’s global sponsorship of Chelsea FC. The company signed the tie in 2015.

The multiyear partnership affords status as the official tire of US Youth Soccer and title sponsorship of the Skills Challenge, a nationwide tour designed to help children improve their soccer skills.

Yokohama uses the partnership to promote products for family vehicles.