FINDLAY, Ohio (Oct. 8, 2001)—Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is hoping that as college sports fans watch their teams drive on down the field or court, they'll get the message to drive on Cooper tires.
Cooper has launched a national advertising campaign supporting its affiliation with six major inter-collegiate athletic conferences. Via its sponsorships, Cooper is the official tire of the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific 10, Southeastern and Mountain West Conferences.
The affiliation with the six leagues covers 61 universities spread throughout 36 states. Regional television coverage of football and basketball games will ensure Cooper's ads will be seen in nearly the entire country.
“We were extremely aggressive,” said Pat Brown, Cooper's vice president of advertising and communications. “Our agency brought this idea to us in a much smaller form and we decided to go after the six major conferences. We looked at that. Geographically, we're covering a lot of ground.”
The ads began airing nationally at the beginning of the football season in late August and early September. The campaign endured an untimely interruption when all of the Sept. 15 weekend football games were canceled in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C.
Ms. Brown said this inconvenience was more like a speed bump and added there are plenty of weeks left in the football season, not to mention the entire collegiate basketball season, for fans to see them.
“I think that as the country gets back, and we all get back to normal, the value of them is certainly going to increase,” she said. “Right now, that's pretty minor in the scope of things. I'm not going to whine about the timing of a particular program launch.”
The electronic portion of the campaign features conference-oriented TV spots, as well as 30-second radio spots to run in relevant markets. Print ads feature X-and-O diagrams of football and basketball plays, with “players driving” toward their goals.
The end of the make-believe field/court features the words “Drive on” followed by a Cooper Tires logo.
Other print material features a small boy kicking a soccer ball in a conference ad with the words: “The future is His.”
Cooper is offering dealers open-ended ads to run locally, allowing them to capitalize on the entire campaign. Ms. Brown said this is part of a co-op fund set up to run ads in local media.
She added that the company provided in-store kits to every dealer selling the Cooper brand. These packages—designated by conference and regionalized—include newspaper slicks, posters and other materials to promote Cooper products.
The tire maker's multi-year program includes advertising, merchandising, promotional and media rights to each of the sponsored conferences as well as selected hospitality and special events packages for conference events and championships.
However, its foray into the world of sports is nothing new. Legendary professional golfer Arnold Palmer has been the Cooper Tire spokesman for several years.