Universal Studios – a subsidiary of Paris-based Vivendi Universal – today announces a wide-ranging worldwide marketing partnership with automaker Toyota Motor Corporation.

The three-year deal will cost Toyota “tens of millions” of dollars, according to Universal, in return for which the car firm will be promoted via its partner’s theme parks, movies and TV channels. Toyota will spend a further $50–$80 million on ads backing the alliance.

At the heart of the deal, said Stephanie Sperber, Universal’s senior vp–global alliances, is the promotion of Toyota in the media group’s theme parks in Florida, California, Spain and Japan. The auto maker will sponsor various rides and have its cars on display, while its brand will appear throughout the CityWalk retail zones in the California and Florida parks.

The partnership also involves Universal’s movies – Toyota will be given first choice of product placement opportunities in films and will get many such inserts for free, only paying an extra fee for what Sperber called “event” movies. “You’ll be seeing a lot of Toyotas in our upcoming films,” she warned.

Toyota dealerships will give away compilation CDs of music by Universal artists. Different CDs may be produced to match the supposed musical tastes of car-owners: rock ‘n’ roll for sports car drivers and family music for buyers of minivans.

According to Steve Sturm, vp–marketing at Toyota Motor Sales USA, the car company will also get to hear new Universal music early, giving it a head-start in the race to license songs for ads. Some price cuts may also be negotiated for the licensing of music, though that would in part depend on the artist involved.

The alliance even extends to television, where Toyota will sponsor several shows on its partner’s cable and satellite stations in Europe and Latin America, and gain a 30% discount on the same channels’ ad rates.

News source: Wall Street Journal