AKRON — Tire brands come and go regularly in North America, but the relaunch of the Atlas tire brand this year would have to rank as the top brand-related story of the past year.
Tire Group International L.L.C. (TGI), which has built its business selling tires throughout Latin America, recently secured the exclusive U.S. distribution rights to the Atlas brand of passenger, light truck and commercial tires and started an extensive nostalgia-themed marketing campaign, featuring posters and video clips of Atlas advertising from the 1960s and 1970s.
The brand, originally developed in the 1930s by Standard Oil Co. for tires and batteries sold through its branded filling stations, had been dormant for more than a decade before Linglong Americas Inc., U.S. subsidiary of China's Shandong Linglong Tire Co. Ltd., acquired ownership in 2015 of the trademark rights.
The brand had a brief revival in the late 1990s, when a Milwaukee-based distributor, TeamTBA, bought the rights to the brand and attempted to breathe new life into it.
Miami-based TGI said it has been distributing the Atlas brand on a limited basis for a few years but late last year secured the exclusive distribution rights to the U.S. market. This is TGI's first attempt to market a product nationwide throughout the U.S.
TGI declined to discuss in detail its expectations for the brand, but a spokesperson said the company would like to expand distribution into Canada and other markets. But for now, it is focusing on the U.S. market, where it has about 40 dealers selling the Atlas brand.
Shandong Linglong is producing the brand in its factory in Rayong, Thailand.
TGI's other brands — Astro, Cosmo, Duramas, Industar, Luna or Orion — are distributed predominantly throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.