CYPRESS, Calif.—If it's a tire, it's round and black, right? Well, if Toyo Tire (U.S.A.) Corp. has its way, consumers will begin to think about tires as being any color. Not that Toyo is introducing tires with color trim, as other manufacturers have done. Toyo's new ad campaign, which began in July, asks: ``What color would your tires be?''
The campaign, developed by Crowl, Montgomery and Clark (CMC) in North Canton, Ohio, is an attempt to get customers to perceive tires as more than a commodity.
``We wanted to take it (tires) out of the commodity category,'' said Chuck Seeley, vice president of CMC.
Mr. Seeley said CMC's research showed color was a component that ``allowed (consumers) to think about what a performance tire might be.''
``There's so much similarity between products,'' said Mike Kemper, CMC account manager. ``We needed to try to define Toyo as being a little more expressive, a little more relevant.''
Mr. Kemper added that because Toyo doesn't have the ability to match the advertising budgets of the big three tire companies (Goodyear, Michelin and Bridgestone), ``We needed to differentiate this Toyo campaign from anything else that's out there.''
Earl Knoper, senior vice president of marketing for Toyo, said the campaign will take ``an umbrella approach'' and this theme will be used in all types of media. ``We hope the campaign expresses a personality for our company,'' he said. ``We hope it makes people remember our name.''
Mr. Kemper said the ads will not feature close-up views of tires on cars—another means of differentiation.
Each of the three print ads features a different colored ring and copy directed to each specific type of customer:
A multi-colored ring for younger international/import car enthusiasts.
An orange ring for sophisticated, well-educated car owners who like higher-priced cars and put a premium on quality, value, style and performance.
A green ring for independent tire dealers to emphasize profitability and quality of Toyo tires.
CMC also is supervising the production of a TV spot that can be customized for local use by independent dealers. However, Mr. Kemper said there currently are no plans to run these spots on national cable or broadcast TV networks.
Mr. Knoper said Toyo ads appear in the game programs of seven Major League Baseball teams. He also said Toyo ads will appear in programs at every National Football League game as well as the Super Bowl. Toyo advertising also will appear in a weekly magazine about the NFL.
Mr. Knoper said this campaign will last ``at least two years,'' but declined to reveal its cost. He said the success of the campaign will be measured against goals Toyo has set for the years 2002 and, possibly, 2005.
He said the ad agency spent about three months developing the campaign. And of the four ideas CMC presented to Toyo officials, ``This was the most different,'' he said.