BALTIMORE—South Korea's Kumho Tire Co. Inc. is beginning a two-year, $21 million worldwide TV advertising campaign designed to enhance and strengthen the company's image and brand name.
"It's the first time in the history of the company," said Mike Leverington, marketing manager for Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc., "to actually endeavor on a worldwide brand-equity-building project."
About 20 percent of the campaign's total ad budget, about $4 million, will be allocated for North America—more than any other region in the world.
In the only TV spot produced for the campaign so far, a red Porsche is seen racing along a curvy road. A rabbit jumps into the path of the speeding car and the driver hits the brakes.
As the car halts with tires squealing, a splash of red liquid is thrown into the air. Fearing the worst, the driver gets out of the car only to find the rabbit sitting unharmed in front of the car.
The driver looks at the car and realizes the red splash was paint pulled from the car's hood, the result of the quick stop made possible by the car's Kumho ECSTA Supra 712 ultra-high-performance tires.
The ad "is a universal spot that can be used all around the world," Mr. Leverington said. "This spot focuses on design technology, tying technology with Kumho."
In the U.S., the spot will be placed in specific time periods on cable TV networks including CNN, ESPN and Fox Sports West, which serves California. Kumho's desired demographic is male viewers, aged 35-49, with a household income above $35,000.
The campaign began June 21 in the U.S. and will continue until the summer of 2002, when South Korea hosts the World Cup soccer championship.
The same television spot will be shown in Latin America, several European countries, Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
This new campaign comes on the heels of a $750,000 U.S advertising campaign begun in January that used the slogan "Way to go Kumho." It included spots on TNN's "Bassmaster" show, two-page color ads in several national publications and a consumer sweepstakes designed to pull customers into dealerships that carry Kumho's lines.
Since that campaign, Mr. Leverington said the company's research indicates that about 20 percent of Kumho tire purchasers have seen the "Bassmasters" program.
The global TV campaign will act as an umbrella to provide more opportunities to emphasize local dealer ads in North America, Mr. Leverington said, "and then capitalize on the synergies of that brand-building equity.
"We are not changing our direction or our strategy," he said. "What we're doing is stepping up the pace."
Mr. Leverington estimated Kumho has approximately 2 percent of North America's replacement tire market, and the company would like to double that to a unit volume comparable to the Cooper or Kelly brands. However, that won't necessarily happen by the end of this campaign, he said.
Kumho's ads also will be placed to draw more viewers from households in the $45,000 to $50,000 income range. "We want to appeal to a little higher segment of the demographics," he added.
However, the main purpose of the campaign is to strengthen the Kumho brand name, he said, and improve dealer profitability.
"We're no longer a price-driven, off-shore manufacturer, as some people might think we are," he said. "We're trying to be value-driven and give dealers the support they want."
Mr. Leverington also said the Supra 712 high-performance line, introduced in November at the Tire Association of North America's Tire Expo in Las Vegas, is now available in 46 sizes, and sales are exceeding expectations. "It's one of the most successful lines we've introduced," he said.