By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Toshiba Corporation has signed on as a worldwide sponsor of the 2007 Rugby World Cup which will take place in France this September and October, and is predicting a major spike in flat panel TV sales in the run up to the event.

Details of the sponsorship deal will be officially announced tonight in Tokyo, Japan, and are likely to mirror the company’s technology sponsorship of the soccer World Cup in Germany last year, which included highly visual sideline advertising.

Australian electrical retailers will be invited to partner with Toshiba in promotional activities for the event including point of sale advertising and free ticket giveaways to consumers.

Toshiba will also run a sales incentive promotion in which retail sales staff can win free tickets for selling its products.

Toshiba Information Systems Division (ISD), which as of April will add Toshiba’s audio visual product lineup to its existing portfolio of notebook computers and portable audio, will be coordinating the Australian promotional activities.

“You can basically plan a schedule for selling flat panel TVs around these major sporting events, and we expect there will be a huge spike in sales of TVs around August and September in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup in France,” said Toshiba ISD general manager, Mark Whittard.

Toshiba ISD has take distribution of Toshiba audio visual products from Castel Electronics, which held the account for 10 years.

By the time of the Rugby World Cup, products in the company’s portfolio will include Toshiba-branded LCD TVs with integrated digital tuners, HD-DVD players, DVD players and recorders and portable DVD players.