Toyota dealership signs deal with Mall of Georgia

BUFORD - Toyota Mall of Georgia just gained a 2-million-square-foot showroom - and all it took was a little ink.

The Buford dealership recently signed a two-year marketing deal with the Mall of Georgia, according to mall management. The agreement is significant because it gives the dealership - which already has a sales lot and showroom on Ga. Highway 20 - additional exposure to an estimated 12 million annual shoppers at the high-end mall.

Mall of Georgia, owned by Simon Property Group, draws customers from around the Southeast and is one of the region's largest malls.

As title sponsor, the Toyota dealership can put its name on the mall's food court, on the kids' area, and place its signature models, such as the Sequoia SUV, inside the shopping center.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Toyota Mall of Georgia did not return calls Tuesday.

It's not the first time the auto industry and Simon have forged a marketing alliance. Phipps Plaza in Atlanta, another Simon-owned mall, reached a similar deal with General Motors' Cadillac division.

Last year, a local BMW dealership turned the former Mall of Georgia FAO Schwarz toy store into a makeshift showroom. It has since moved out. Sagon RV also displays its vehicles next to Dick's Sporting Goods, a logical spot to reach outdoor lovers.

But Brian Baker, Simon's regional director of business development, said "the deal with Toyota is the most integrated we've had yet."

It's the first time the mall's food court has used a sponsor, said Mall of Georgia Marketing Director Joshua Zimmer. Toyota vehicles will start being placed in the mall in about two weeks.

To reach more customers, many companies are showing interest in mall marketing deals. Automakers head the list.

"It's a paradigm shift," Baker said. "They are spending money to bring cars to people, rather than people to their sales lot."