PASADENA, Calif.-To capitalize on what it considers to be the very strong, but largely untapped potential of its Pirelli brand, Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp. (PATC) has launched the largest advertising campaign in its history. The campaign, which will focus on brand image rather than specific products, will feature U.S. Olympic gold medal track star Carl Lewis with the slogan: ``Power is nothing without control.''
According to John Butcher, chairman of Brighton Communications Inc., a Costa Mesa, Calif., advertising and public relations agency, PATC will boost its ad spending 300 percent from 1994 levels to underwrite national advertising on several selected cable TV networks, including CNN, the Discovery Channel, CNBC, Arts & Entertainment, ESPN and USA.
A print campaign will focus on enthusiast magazines such as Motor Trend and Road & Track, and car club publications aimed at owners of Mercedes, BMWs, Jaguars, Ferraris and Porsches, Mr. Butcher added.
Both the television ads, which were to begin running in March, and the print ads, scheduled to debut in April, will feature Mr. Lewis performing as a human Pirelli tire, clad in a specially designed black outfit with a clearly identifiable tread design.
He is pictured running in the wet, cornering and in more fanciful situations, including running up the Statue of Liberty and across the suspension cables atop the Brooklyn Bridge, according to David May of Young & Rubicam, the New York-based advertising agency that created the campaign.
The ads will run this year through October, but are part of a three-year program, said Kevin Gilhuly, PATC's manager of marketing communications.
PATC officials declined to specify what the company plans to spend on the national ad campaign this year.
The objectives of the campaign, as outlined by Franco Carini, PATC's director of marketing, are to maintain Pirelli's image as a premium brand, while increasing both consumer awareness and intent to purchase.
Pirelli is starting from a position of some strength, Mr. Carini said, as research commissioned by the firm showed Pirelli was No. 4 in brand awareness among tires in the U.S. (after Goodyear, Michelin and Firestone).
Young & Rubicam's own research indicated that Pirelli is the most ``highly differentiated'' major tire brand. However, at the same time, it is seen as the least relevant or least appropriate to them personally, Mr. May said.
The challenge of the new Pirelli advertising campaign, he said, is to capitalize on the brand's distinctiveness and link that to some tire benefit that will be relevant to the target audience.
The most likely Pirelli buyers are those who ``want to feel in charge of how they drive, whether it is cautiously with the family, or losing themselves in the open road,'' Mr. May said.
He identified PATC's message to this target audience as: ``Pirelli's commitment to unsurpassed engineering allows you to enjoy maximum control of the road.''