AKRON-Spring has sprung, and new tire advertising campaigns are popping up like would-be outfielders for the Chicago White Sox. Among both the new and old offerings, a few trends can be noted, industry observers said. Tire makers who once focused on niche marketing appear to be taking a broader approach, while a growing emphasis on products vs. image can be found in others' campaigns.
``The companies seem to be focusing more on specific products and specific product attributes,'' noted Kevin Gilhuly, marketing operations manager for Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp. The goal appears to be a portrayal of the manufacturers' tires as products that offer good value for their price.
Pirelli Armstrong is no exception to that concept-the firm is launching a new campaign stressing that Pirelli tires perform well on a variety of cars-not just the speedy, expensive models.
But the current master of product-specific advertising is Goodyear, with its spots for the Aquatred and related lines, said Jack Trout of Trout & Ries, a marketing consultant firm.
Among niche marketers, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is making its break for the big time. In late April, the firm will unveil its first national network TV campaign.
The move could work, showing Cooper has the attitude needed to maintain, or even improve, its position, Mr. Trout said. ``There's a certain aggressiveness that's needed to survive in this industry. I think they've got a run at it.''
He was less positive about Pirelli's new endeavor, noting the firm seems to be taking an ``all-things-to-all-people'' approach. ``I think that's a mistake. You can't have it both ways.''
Pirelli is running the chance of undermining its cachet as a high-performance player. ``You can go down (with a tire's image), but you can't go back up,'' the marketing consultant said.
Dunlop Tire Corp. also will take a new tack in 1994, but the company will not reveal any details.
Dunlop also unveiled a new campaign in 1993. There was nothing wrong with that effort, but it was developed quickly with the help of a new advertising agency, said Pat Logue, director of marketing. Now, with about the same size budget as last year, Dunlop has had the opportunity to take more time to create a lasting program.
Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. also is changing its ad plans for the BFGoodrich brand. While the brand will retain its distinctive monochromatic ads, the firm will place the spots in a broader range of publications.
BFGoodrich traditionally has targeted car enthusiast publications, particularly seeking those customizing their vehicles.
But this year, the tire maker will test the same ads in a broader range of magazines, mostly those in the outdoor and sports areas, said Rick Smith, manager of marketing communications for the BFGoodrich brand.
The Uniroyal brand also will be making new tracks in 1994. ``We are going to put some extra efforts behind 20 major markets,'' said Bill Notar, manager of Uniroyal brand marketing communications.
The firm chose to target very strong or very weak markets with the pilot programs, he said.
Uniroyal will work with its dealers in those markets, providing additional television spots (both for affiliate and cable stations) and ads for local newspapers.
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. will maintain the ``America's tire since 1900'' tagline for its Firestone brand. The company also will play up its planned 1995 return to IndyCar racing in a new television ad, featuring footage of Firestone's recent IndyCar tire tests.
Bridgestone, Michelin, Goodyear and Kelly-Springfield all plan to retain their current taglines and campaigns, with some new advertisements, still bearing the same themes, thrown in.
Kelly-Springfield, celebrating its 100th anniversary this spring, will run a few ads in national consumer publications touting its centennial status.
Bridgestone's new ads will feature the Potenza line, while Goodyear has introduced a handful of twists on its acclaimed Aquatred spots.
Michelin plans to stick with its baby campaign, but the firm continues to develop and consider alternatives to the program, which is more than 10 years old. So far, the tire maker can't find anything to beat it, said Bob Wells, manager of marketing communications for the Michelin brand.