NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Pirelli Tire North America has launched a major advertising campaign that links an international sports star with one of this country's most famous patriotic icons. The theme of PTNA's campaign is ``Liberty'' and, in both TV and print ads, Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldo assumes a Statue-of-Libertyesque pose with the bottom of one foot covered with the tread pattern of Pirelli's P6000 tire. The campaign began in August and will continue through October.
Kevin Gilhuly, PTNA director of advertising and communications, said this campaign represents ``the first step'' in advertising support promised to dealers in the wake of the Italian company's marketing agreement with Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. Last March, PTNA told dealers it would more than double its advertising budget to support sales and marketing efforts in North America.
PTNA has scheduled a 30-second TV spot on national cable networks—CNN, the Discovery Channel, USA Network and Fox News and Sports. The spot alternates between scenes of soccer action with Ronaldo maneuvering around opponents and action shots of Pirelli tires in extreme driving conditions. It closes with Ronaldo's pose as the Statue of Liberty.
Print ads featuring this same pose are being placed in major auto enthusiast publications.
The cost of the campaign was not disclosed, and Mr. Gilhuly said it is not tied to any specific sales goals. ``This is an attempt to invest more in the Pirelli brand.''
While Ronaldo is famous in Latin America and Europe, where he plays for a professional team sponsored by Pirelli S.p.A., he is less well-known in the U.S. But Mr. Gilhuly thinks that will change.
``Ronaldo is like the Michael Jordan of soccer on a worldwide basis,'' he said, ``and we hope through the campaign and increased interest in soccer that he'll become well-known here.'' Mr. Gilhuly added that Ronaldo already has appeared in North American advertising for Nike Inc., the athletic apparel company.