HAMBURG, Germany—Continental A.G. is using sex to sell tires in Europe. That's not a new idea, but Continental says it has gone further than other advertisers to make the point that men love cars like they love women.
Continental's suggestive new brand-image campaign, called ``The Secret Love Affair,'' will run in 18 European countries.
The campaign has started in Germany with eight print advertisements and short television spots. Subtitles in the spots read: ``Most men have a secret love affair...hopefully they use the right rubber.'' The brand logo follows with the slogan: ``Do it with German engineering.''
The campaign was introduced in the U.K. in July and will debut in France in September. Other European countries will start early next year.
The cost of the television and print campaign will be around $15.9 million (30 million German marks).
Torsten Meier, Continental's head of European advertising, said the campaign is targeted at high-income men who enjoy driving, own more powerful cars and are well-educated.
``We were looking for an idea that would touch men of all types and social backgrounds and would cross national borders,'' Mr. Meier said. ``It was not the differences we were interested in; it was the common aspects. And we found it in men's love affair with cars.''
In interviews, Conti and its advertising agency asked men in Germany, Italy, France and England about their relationship with their cars. Over 60 percent said they loved driving.
``So our next question was: What can the tire contribute to this love?'' Mr. Meier said. ``It can add safety and emotion.''
It's an old message, but Conti wanted to deliver it in a new way. ``We were looking for the big emotions, which all men in Europe share,'' Mr. Meier said. The approach grew out of the perception that men have an attitude toward cars quite similar to the one they have toward women.
``The message we got from the field research interviews was: `Driving is like sex,''' Mr. Meier said. ``So we needed to get the message to the customer: `Driving with Continental tires is like safer sex'—total fun, but no risk.''