NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Few people realize that their freedom to move anywhere by car would be severely hampered today if John Boyd Dunlop hadn't invented the pneumatic tire.
Goodyear has found that most consumers are just as unaware of the tire that bears Mr. Dunlop's name, especially young adults looking for performance tires to fit their cars. So, the Akron-based tire maker, in keeping with its promise to go to market with a Goodyear-Dunlop-Kelly portfolio, is preparing to promote Dunlop as an up-and-coming, energetic and dynamic brand. That's a direct appeal to the lifestyles of today's 20-somethings.
Prior to Goodyear's acquisition of Dunlop as part of its global alliance with Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., Dunlop Tire Corp. did not have the financial resources to advertise its brand as aggressively as other tire makers, according to Derek Jenner, Dunlop's vice president of sales and marketing. Now, with Goodyear behind it, the Dunlop brand can capitalize on its original equipment fitments and build its image as a young person's kind of tire, he said.
``Goodyear and Dunlop are looking for a quantum leap in the Dunlop brand,'' he said.
That marketing plan kicks off with Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America Ltd.'s launch of the SP Sport A2, a new H-rated all-season high-performance radial that replaces the 9-year-old Dunlop D60A2. Beginning in September, the SP Sport A2 will be featured in enthusiast magazines and some general interest magazines that are ``appropriate'' to the tire's lifestyle appeal, Mr. Jenner told Tire Business June 12 during Goodyear's unveiling of the new tire to trade journalists, at the Nashville Superspeedway.
He said details of the ad campaign are still in the works, but Dunlop will begin advertising the SP Sport A2, then transition into a marketing push for the Dunlop brand in 2002. The SP Sport A2 will serve as the first block in Goodyear's plans to build the Dunlop brand across the board.
Besides print ads, TV commercials also will be a possibility for the brand promotions, which Mr. Jenner called a ``significant program'' coming in the next year. ``It's an exciting time for us,'' he said.
For the SP Sport A2, consumers will see new-point-of-sale materials at Dunlop dealerships, have the option of participating in a new credit card program and can log on to the SP Sport A2's Web site, www.spsporta2.com, for more information on the product.
In Nashville, journalists got a sneak peek at the SP Sport A2 and its performance on dry and wet pavement. The event included laps around the Nashville race track in BMW 3 Series sedans.
Goodyear is positioning the SP Sport A2 to compete in the H-rated market-the fastest growing segment in replacement high performance tires, according to Ed Shaffer, corporate manager of product marketing for Dunlop Tires. He told journalists that auto makers have increasingly been producing cars with higher suspensions, necessitating an upgrade to H-rated OE tires.
In the high performance tire market, Mr. Shaffer said H-rated tires account for more than 71 percent of all high performance tires sold. In the past five years, H-rated tires have grown 42 percent within the replacement market.
H-rated product lines must now cover a wide range of vehicles, from coupes to luxury sedans, he said. As a result, consumers expect not only performance, but ride comfort, low noise and higher mileage.
To meet those challenges, the Dunlop SP Sport A2 features a non-directional, asymmetric tread design for an optimized balance between responsive handling and performance, Dunlop said.
The tire also features wide circumferential and intermediate tread grooves designed to evacuate water from the contact patch.
It employs tread-pitch sequencing to break up harmonics for a quiet ride, Dunlop said. The SP Sport A2 carries a 50,000-mile limited treadwear warranty and 420/AA/A UTQG ratings. It is available in 27 sizes in 14- to 17-inch rim diameters and 70-, 65-, 60-, 55- and 50-series aspect ratios to fit more than 90 percent of H-rated applications. Twenty-six of those sizes currently are being shipped to dealers.