Japanese automotive heavyweight Toyota has struck a landmark sponsorship agreement with American football’s NFL, filling the league’s combined official automotive partner designation, which had been vacant for almost a decade.

Under the multi-year agreement, the Japanese carmaker said it will leverage the year-round NFL calendar as a marketing platform to communicate its brand message to American football fans across the US via activations at official NFL events, including the flagship Super Bowl.

Toyota will sponsor both cars and trucks, marking the first time the NFL has unified both automotive segments since 2015 when General Motors ended a deal that started in 2001. South Korean manufacturer Hyundai declined to renew its car sponsorship deal after the 2019 season, while Ford’s truck sponsorship expired in 2021.

David Christ, group Toyota’s vice president and general manager, said: “The NFL is the number one sports property in the U.S. with 205 million passionate fans.

“This partnership provides us the opportunity to connect with fans through a wide array of NFL programs and platforms, allowing us to share our brand message and promote our vehicles to a diverse and highly engaged audience.

“For more than half a century, Toyota and the NFL have brought American families together for memorable experiences and iconic moments. With this partnership and the combined resources of Toyota and the NFL, the best is yet to come.”

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The deal deepens Toyota’s ties with the NFL, having already secured marketing partnerships with 11 separate franchises on the local and regional levels. Its presence has been felt across the league since the 1980s when it held title sponsorship rights to national network ABC’s Monday Night Football Halftime Show.

Since 2006, meanwhile, Toyota has held sponsorship rights for NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

Tracie Rodburg, the NFL’s senior vice president of sponsorship management, has now said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Toyota, a brand that has supported both the league’s media partners and its club, now as the official automotive partner of the NFL.

“Toyota shares the NFL’s strategic vision and goals, prioritizing authenticity and a commitment to their consumers, our fans. We look forward to working together to bring fans exciting programs in the seasons ahead.”

The deal comes days after the NFL announced the appointment of Ingrid Petri to lead its sponsorship division. As vice president of sponsorship strategy and business development, Petri will be responsible for identifying and closing new sponsorship deals for the competition.

Last week, the NFL also announced a new partnership with Brand USA, the tourism marketing organization for the country, to boost the league’s presence overseas.

The league is staging five international regular-season games this season, including two at Tottenham and another at London’s Wembley Stadium in October, while Frankfurt in Germany will host two more NFL games in November.