FINDLAY, Ohio-Arnold Palmer will still be carrying the bag, but a new national advertising campaign from Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. will be swinging in a bit of a different direction.
With Mr. Palmer still at the fore, the Findlay-based tire maker will try to reach more women and promote consumer safety and awareness.
``This is taking it to another level,'' said Patricia Brown, vice president, advertising and communications. ``It's a significant increase in focus on consumer safety.''
Although the campaign-launched March 24 and scheduled to run through the fourth quarter of this year-comes in the wake of recent tire recalls and related lawsuits, Ms. Brown said this is coincidental.
``The industry became more aware of how important consumer safety is in terms of our obligation to promote awareness of how they need to maintain and care for their tires,'' Ms. Brown said. ``Our ads...have always had somewhat of a safety background.''
The new campaign includes network cable television, local radio, magazine and interactive advertising. The TV spots will be ``tagable,'' Ms. Brown said, allowing local dealers to add personal touches to the commercials.
Point-of-sale materials will include copies of magazine inserts that cover tire safety and basic maintenance. The same inserts will be in issues of Popular Mechanics magazine.
Where Cooper is hoping to create a stir is among women, whom Ms. Brown said are viewed by the company as somewhat of an underestimated and untapped segment of the market. In order to reach more women, the company for the first time will run spots on Home and Garden Television and The Weather Channel.
``Women are being more involved in the maintenance of their own vehicles,'' Ms. Brown said. ``I think everyone is becoming aware of the buying power of women and how savvy they're becoming in terms of vehicles.''
As has been its standard, Cooper will continue a humorous approach to its advertising, using a couple of TV commercials it debuted last year.
In one, a sport-utility vehicle is on a rack for a tire rotation. When the rack lifts-to the accompanying sound of crunching-the concrete sticks to the tires.
The message: Cooper tires provide ``a lot of grip for the money.'' A similar idea is conveyed in print ads. In another TV spot, a car on a race track goes into the pits, the four tires are removed and the car body is thrown away.
``The focus is on value and consumer satisfaction,'' Ms. Brown said.
Cooper also will make its first venture into a variety of collegiate athletic sponsorships. That will include becoming the ``official tire'' of the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Big East, Big 12, Mountain West and Pac10.
During regular-season and championship events, Cooper will strive to build dealer and brand awareness, with ads customized regionally for dealers, Ms. Brown said. For example, a dealer in Ohio will get materials tied to the Big Ten. Eventually, TV spots also will be regionalized.
Throughout Cooper's various forms of advertising, Mr. Palmer will remain constant. Ms. Brown said the company has ``seen a market increase'' since the golfing great came on board as a celebrity spokesperson.
But she would not divulge exactly how much of an increase or what it was based on.
``Our dealer organization absolutely loves the Arnold Palmer campaign,'' she said. ``It's very easy to promote his name through the local levels.''
According to Mark Armstrong, president of Cooper Tire's North American tire operations, Mr. Palmer will remain the company's spokesperson through at least 2003.