AKRON-On May 1, General Tire returned to national network television as a series sponsor for the first time in more than 25 years, with the premier of the ``Continental General Tire Wildlife Adventures'' segment on CBS-TV's new series, Eye on Sports. The four, 30-minute segments (the others were scheduled to air May 15 and June 19 and 26) focus on the capture and relocation of endangered wildlife to areas where they will be safe. The first two segments were set in the U.S.-in the Florida Everglades and the Colorado Rockies; the final two were filmed in Africa.
Despite its short run, the program sponsorship marks a definite change in General's marketing efforts, company officials said.
``This program represents a new direction for the company, tying in our sponsorship with a fully integrated (marketing) package,'' said Chris Dickson, vice president, marketing.
``It brings Continental and General together in a clear brand strategy.'' said Sher Taton, director, marketing programs for General's passenger/light truck division. `` We are demonstrating our commitment to brand promotion in a multi-brand strategy.''
During the CBS show, General will air its latest commercial, a 30-second spot featuring its Grabber light truck tires, which outfitted the 4x4 vehicles used in the wildlife segments of the program.
The company also will run a 30-second ad for Continental high performance tires, in which a Conti-shod car zips around the rooftop of a multistory building.
In addition to the TV ads, which the company said will reach nearly 8 million consumers, General has built a sales and promotion program around the TV series and the ``Wildlife Adventures'' theme.
The company has produced new national advertising for dealers, radio scripts, billboards and point-of-purchase materials, and has launched a ``What a Wild Deal'' consumer promotion, offering a $40 rebate for selected tires.
The program is an example of the type of organized, integrated, effective marketing the firm expects to do more of in the future, Ms. Taton said.