CHARLOTTE, N.C.-Continental General Tire dealers in 16 U.S. metropolitan areas stand to benefit from some $8 million in local advertising planned for this year. Officials say it's part of CGT's new ``micro-marketing'' approach, which channels money once spent on national advertising into local market campaigns focusing on the firm's products and dealers.
According to CGT Director of Communications James T. Novak and Elwood E. ``Sonny'' Litz, director of marketing and administration, the areas affected include: Buffalo, N.Y.; Chicago; Minneapolis; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Fresno, Calif; Indianapolis; Detroit; Baltimore; Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa.; Atlanta; Oklahoma City; Miami/Fort Lauderdale and Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Charlotte, N.C.
The pair told TIRE BUSINESS that individualized proposals are now being shown to dealers in those markets, where the company either now has sufficient representation or foresees potential for substantial growth.
``We're taking money previously invested in (areas such as) motor sports, bowling, the NBA and other sponsorship opportunities and driving it right into the dealer's place of business in the marketplace,'' Mr. Novak said.
What's more, he said, CGT is requiring nothing in terms of personal commitment from dealers who stand to benefit from such advertising. ``It's our money and our resources that we're driving through his marketplace,'' he said.
Not surprisingly, many dealers are skeptical when first told of CGT's plans. ``You can tell by their body language they're waiting for the other shoe to drop, wondering `What's the trick?'*'' Mr. Novak said.
``It's only after we tell them, `Look, we're just coming into your marketplace, advertising your name and our name. . . and promoting our products,'. . . that many dealers sit up and take interest.''
Mr. Litz said CGT realizes its brands don't enjoy the consumer recognition of such big-budget competitors as Goodyear and Michelin. But the company hopes the words ``Conti'' and ``General'' will be ``the first out of the mouth of the dealer'' whose customer has just suffered ``sticker shock'' after learning the prices of those more-sought-after products.
CGT wants its dealer to tell customers: ``I've got the best alternative for you right here.''
While CGT's initial advertising will be confined to print and local radio, billboard and direct mail ads eventually will follow.
The first such campaign is slated to break during the months of April and May, when the tire maker will spotlight its line of S-rated Grabber ST light truck tires.
Two similar local ad campaigns also are slated for the July-August and October-November periods respectively. But for these two promotions, CGT is telling participating dealers: ``You pick the product. . . and we'll advertise it.''