NEW CASTLE, Ind.—Two years after opening a Big O Tires Inc. store, Cindi and Ron Shanas admit they're still getting used to life in a small town. Previously, they had lived in Tucson, Ariz., and Las Vegas before moving to Indiana to open their dealership in August 1997.
``It's a small town, and we have to do some things so people will get to know us,'' Mrs. Shanas said.
Actually, it was another tire company's famous advertisements that served as the inspiration for one of the Shanas' most popular promotions.
Last year they decided to hold their first annual ``Big O Baby Contest.'' A local photographer took pictures of children between six months and two years of age sitting inside a Big O tire—just like the babies in Michelin North America's ads.
``We didn't think you could copyright that idea,'' Mrs. Shanas said.
There were about 60 entrants the first year and about 50 this year.
Last year, Mr. and Mrs. Shanas tried to pick a winner, but found it too difficult. So a local radio station volunteered to judge the photos and did again this year, as well.
The winning baby receives a $100 U.S. Savings Bond; other entrants receive gift certificates from the dealership. Mrs. Shanas said that many of the parents purchase larger photos of their babies in the tire from the photographer.
``Having an 8210 photo with our product hanging on the family's living room wall'' is great advertising, she said. ``This is definitely an annual event.''
New Castle Big O also has participated in other community events including a week-long ``fire sale''—the local fire department displayed one of its trucks at the Big O store to attract attention.
In turn, the dealership donated a portion of the week's sales to the department.