RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif.—Pirelli dealers will see several new tires and a lot more advertising in coming months as Pirelli Tire North America (PTNA) tries to rev up sales under its new strategic alliance with Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. As Cooper takes over sales and distribution for Pirelli's lines in North America, New Haven, Conn.-based PTNA will spend $20 million to introduce six mainstream tires over the next 20 months.
The company also will more than double its advertising budget ``to continue to differentiate Pirelli from our competitors and provide our dealers with increased support,'' Mauro Pessi, PTNA's vice president of marketing, said at the company's dealer conference.
Pirelli lacks brand awareness in the U.S. but has a huge potential, he said. ``What we really need is to start spending money to promote the brand.''
Pirelli's 1998 advertising investments were not sufficient to support its sales growth objectives, Mr. Pessi said. That won't be the case in 1999.
Beginning this spring, the tire maker will launch a multi-million dollar national advertising campaign—with 80 percent spent on cable TV advertising.
That program will be supported with a print program in national automotive magazines.
Both campaigns will feature Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo and stress the Pirelli brand's core values of performance, leadership, European heritage, speed and handling, Mr. Pessi said.
The campaigns will extend into local markets through in-store promotions, point-of-purchase materials and through sponsorships with soccer organizations tied to retailers.
New tires planned for 1999 include a winter tire featuring a special ice compound, which will be launched in July, and an 80,000-mile broadline touring tire, the P300 M+S, set for debut in November.
In 2000, PTNA plans to unveil two ultra-high-performance tires, one for winter and a 50,000-mile Scorpion lighttruck tire.
For 2001, Pirelli dealers will see two additional performance lines. One will be an original equipment tire with M+S capabilities, while the other will be targeted at buyers looking for aesthetics and performance, Mr. Pessi said. Both tires will feature H- and V-speed ratings and provide 50,000-mile limited treadwear warranties.