DES MOINES, Iowa-Television advertising is something Titan Tire Corp. had never tried before. So the Des Moines-based company decided to pull out the biggest stars it could think of: The Grizz, Ursula and Ali Oop.
Many know The Grizz as Maurice ``Morry'' Taylor Jr., the rugged president of Titan Wheel International Inc., parent to Titan Tire.
Earlier this year, Mr. Taylor made a bid for the Republican presidential nomination on a campaign that included bringing back whipping as a form of criminal punishment and balancing the budget by slashing 1/3 of the government workforce. His tough negotiating style earned him the nickname, The Grizz.
But Ursula and Ali Oop, although less known, could put even Mr. Taylor on the run.
Ursula and Ali Oop are, after all, real grizzly bears. They will appear with Mr. Taylor in the off-highway wheel/tire assembly maker's new media campaign, a portion of which includes Titan's first two 30-second television ad spots.
The commercials were filmed near the end of August. Titan currently is in the process of deciding on when and where the ads will appear, said Katie Dougherty, marketing communications coordinator.
``I think it's more an image campaign,'' Ms. Dougherty said. ``Introducing Morry as our spokesperson; introducing Titan as a tire maker.''
In 1983 Mr. Taylor and a partner bought Firestone's shuttered steel wheel and rim operation in Quincy and formed Can-Am Industries-the company that would eventually become Titan Wheel. In 1986 the company bought out Goodyear's agricultural wheel-making assets.
Titan Tire was formed in July 1994 when Titan Wheel bought Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp.'s farm tire plant in Des Moines.
Titan wheels are already on many of the company's potential tire customer's vehicles, Ms. Dougherty said.
The company's tag line, ``Titan Tire-we're in your field to stay,'' is designed to build on its wheel presence to boost customer awareness of its Titan brand tire products as well, Ms. Dougherty said.
The company is converting all of its Armstrong and Dico tires to the Titan brand name.
The advertisements, as well as an accompanying print campaign that will appear in farm and tire industry trade publications, hope to convey images of teamwork, focus and pride to its employees and to customers, she said.
The grizzly bears that appear in the television advertisements are meant to convey toughness, she said. One of the bears likely will begin appearing in the company's print campaign, replacing Cool Grizz-a drawing of a grizzly bear with a set of shades.
Through the new campaign, Titan hopes it will differentiate itself from its competitors, who primarily use television advertising to promote their passenger and light truck products, Ms. Dougherty said.