NASSAU, Bahamas—Hankook Tire America Corp. unveiled a new national advertising campaign and introduced several tire lines during its annual dealer meeting Feb. 25-28 in Nassau.
Company executives also announced the addition of a new 250,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., to improve fill rates and to support the firm's five satellite warehouses.
The new warehouse, which will be completed by the end of May, replaces a smaller 76,000-sq.-ft. facility at the same location.
"Our strategy is to help your business and your independence and your hard work as a valuable partner," Bill Finn, senior vice president of sales, told 75 dealers at the Atlantis Resort in Nassau.
Citing the company's 20th anniversary in the U.S., Mr. Finn called this "a perfect opportunity to renew our dedication to you, our patriotic dealers."
Unlike some other tire manufacturers, Hankook doesn't require its dealers to commit to buying a minimum percentage of tires, he stressed. Instead, "we help set the course by giving you complete independence."
To help boost sales, Hankook also is building an original equipment presence beyond Korean cars, the Hankook executive said.
While Hankook tires are OE on hundreds of thousands of cars imported into the U.S. from South Korea, Mr. Finn pointed out that Hankook also is on Ford Motor Co.'s approved tire list in the U.S.
Already, Hankook tires are used here as a mini-spare on the Ford Focus, he said, and Hankook tires are OE on two other Ford vehicles in Europe.
"The increase in OE relationships with car manufacturers means added replacement sales down the road," he said.
To support its OE and replacement efforts, Hankook also is stepping up its ad program in a variety of areas.
The firm will air a new television commercial, created by Hankook's parent company in South Korea. It will run on network television in regional markets including New York, Detroit, Los Angeles and Dallas, and nationally on ESPN during April, May and June, Mr. Finn said.
The television ad, called Grip, features a penguin sliding down a hill and being stopped by a polar bear with paw prints resembling the tread of the Hankook Ventus K102 high-performance tire.
Hankook also will receive additional media exposure as a sponsor of New York Mets baseball. For one-half inning of each home game, Hankook's name will be seen on the backstop behind home plate in a campaign similar to one it began with the Los Angeles Dodgers last year.
Game-day programs for both baseball clubs also will feature Hankook ads. To increase exposure with auto enthusiasts, Hankook has expanded its consumer print campaign beyond Car and Driver magazine to include Road & Track, Mr. Finn said.
The Wayne, N.J.-based tire maker also has created new taglines for its dealer and consumer advertising. For its dealer advertising, the tire maker will use the theme: "For the road to profits.|.|.Hankook takes you there."
The new theme "shows exactly how we feel about our quality and our future together," Hankook's new president and CEO, Jin Wook Choi, told dealers. Consumers will see a slightly different theme: "For the road to life...Hankook takes you there."
"This is all part of trying to create an image to support our OE business," Mr. Finn said. "Our quest is to be OE on more and more cars other than Korean cars."
Beyond marketing, Hankook has several new tires slated for 2001. Already available is the Z and W speed-rated Ventus K102, Mr. Finn said. This ultra-high-performance tire is made with Hankook's TCT technology and features a V-shaped tread design for wet handling.
For the performance tuner market, Hankook will introduce the H405 Ventus HR II. The H-rated tire has a directional tread pattern and will be offered in 16- and 17-inch sizes. It will be available to dealers in June.
Both tires feature serrated black letter sidewall styling.
Hankook also will begin shipping the AL01 long-haul medium-truck steer tire, Mr. Finn told dealers. Announced earlier, the tire is now available for ordering in a full range of sizes, he said.