Uniroyal rolls out tire with events
Client: Uniroyal Tire (Greenville, SC)
PR team: In-house and Trone Public Relations (Greensboro, NC)
Campaign: Reintroduction of NailGard tire
Time frame: August 1998 to present
Budget: dollars 1 million
The challenge for Trone Public Relations was to take a 20-year-old
technology and dress it up for today’s consumer. Uniroyal Tire’s
NailGard features a self-sealant that protects tires from sharp objects.
The PR campaign needed to serve as a launching pad for reintroducing
this product to the market. ’The tire had never been marketed well and
we needed to make it relevant,’ explains Elizabeth Krouse, senior vice
president of Trone.
For the launch, Trone used everything from a baseball team to Beanie
Babies, a hot air balloon to a road show. ’We wanted to build momentum
for the launch and create excitement for when the commercials started to
hit,’ says Krouse.
Trone employed an editorial program along with some event strategy. It
conducted a poll showing that safety was the number-one concern in the
eyes of the consumer, according to Krouse. ’We used the premise that
today people are more interested in personal security and don’t want to
be stranded on the road with a flat tire,’ says Krouse. ’We hooked onto
Based on these survey results, the PR team sent press kits to major
media with the tag line that described the story of NailGard as having
’a sticky plot (the sealant), a despicable villain (the nails) and a
happy ending (the tire).’
The main idea was to get the product in the hands of journalists, says
Krouse. Face-to-face meetings with media members took place in
Washington, DC, Detroit and New York. Journalists were picked up in
cars, and on the way to the testing spot a PR team member briefed them
Then the driver of the car deliberately drove over nails, Krouse
’Usually, the reporters were really worried that they wouldn’t be able
to get back to their office,’ she says, because of an impending flat
’And there was no other way they could get back.’ But reporters were
delivered back to their offices on time. For other cities, the media
received a package of a tire and instructions on how to test NailGard.
’This was a consumer reporter’s dream come true,’ says Krouse.
The second step was to capitalize on the hot collectible Beanie
The agency teamed with the Detroit Tigers baseball team to give away a
retired Beanie Baby, ’Stripes,’ to the first 10,000 in attendance at a
’Uniroyal-night’ game. It also conducted radio promos with Detroit
stations and performed demos at the game.
Next, Trone ’redecorated’ a Detroit landmark - a 90-foot, 620-pound tire
on Interstate 94 - by driving a 10-foot nail into it. This Motor City
landmark had served as a Ferris wheel at a World’s Fair, but now sported
a banner with the slogan, ’Takes On Nails.’
Trone then took its road show to New Mexico for a hot air balloon fiesta
to get brand exposure. It built a nine-story balloon with a giant nail
and took it to 40 cities before arriving in Albuquerque where it
completed the campaign with a satellite media tour.
Trone and Uniroyal realized more than 500 stories from the campaign.
Krouse says it was the most successful launch in the history of the
brand and sales zoomed well above forecast. The campaign was seen on the
Today show, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning. Time, Parade,
Popular Science and Motor Trend magazines also ran stories. In total,
the campaign generated 225 million impressions.
The campaign is now in the second generation, according to Krouse, who
declined to release details of the new effort. ’Uniroyal has decided to
expand the NailGard line, so we will be developing more programs,’ she
Fridge recalled with rebates
Client: Gould Electronics (East Lake, OH)
PR Team: The James J. Roop Co. (Cleveland)
Campaign: Servel Gas Refrigerator Rebate
Time Frame: July to December 1998
Budget: dollars 129,000
Despite the fact that it had not been manufactured since 1957, the
Servel gas-powered refrigerator had been linked to 22 carbon monoxide
deaths and 55 injuries over the last 20 years. In 1991, the Consumer
Product Safety Commission and Gould Electronics, which through
acquisitions and divestitures, had become responsible for the
refrigerators, initiated a public awareness campaign about the hazards
of the Servels. They also implemented a rebate program to remove them
from the market. After eight years, phone calls and rebate requests had
slowed to a trickle, and it was time for renewed action - especially as
consumers were still filing lawsuits. Gould asked PR agency James J.
Roop Company of Cleveland to revise and renew its public service
campaign to recall the rest of the Servels.
Roop was able to use existing data from the previous campaign to create
a new effort that mixed direct mail with publicity in rural areas, where
there is a high concentration of Servels. The end objective, said
president James Roop, was ’to accelerate the process’ of returns.
More than 5,000 natural gas companies, 13,600 propane dealers and gas
appliance repair persons and 5,700 county extension agents and home
economists were targeted for the direct mail campaign. They received a
letter asking for their support in getting the remaining Servels out of
service. They also received a brochure explaining the dangers of the
refrigerators, as well as camera-ready art for a flyer on the rebate
program that they could then incorporate into their own public service
The PR effort focused on national media placements as well with
publicity going out to 2,100 national wires about the recall program.
Servel owners were directed to call a hotline. Callers were then mailed
an information package that explained the program. Those who destroyed
their Servels were mailed a rebate check that included disposal costs
and dollars 100. One consumer bribed a friend to take his refrigerator
to a dump; Gould reimbursed him with a pizza and a six-pack of beer.
In the five months following the renewed campaign, information requests
jumped 259% compared to the prior year, first-time calls increased 197%,
and rebate requests rose 130%. Media results included placements in The
Washington Post and the Boston Globe.
Through June 1999, increases in awareness and use of the rebate program
were still well above results of prior years. ’We will look at this
again in six months,’ says Roop. ’We’d like to get the returns down to
single digits. We look at this as an ongoing service.’
Iris-recognition ATMs pass test
Client: Sensar, Bank United, and Diebold
PR Team Sensar (Moorestown, NJ), Bank United (Houston), Diebold (Canton,
OH), Dix and Eaton (Cleveland), Neuman Roussell (Houston) and Kim Hannum
& Co.(West Chester, PA) Campaign: First US launch of iris-recognition
camera at ATMs
Time Frame: early April to May 1999
Budget: dollars 60,000
Don’t worry about forgetting your bankcard ATM pin number. The most
secret code of all can now be found in the blink of an eye. Body-part
identification scans, at one time seen only in James Bond or Terminator
movies, have come to Main Street, USA with a new technology called iris
recognition. Ten times more unique than a fingerprint, a customer’s iris
is captured with a special ATM camera, and in five seconds, if the
system perceives a match, he can proceed.
Revolutionary as this technology may seem, many have already heard of
it, thanks to the successful media campaign by product manufacturer
The in-house team received additional support from 12 PR pros from five
different companies: Kim Hannum & Co.(West Chester, PA); the ATM
manufacturer Diebold, which had purchased Sensar; Diebold’s PR firm, Dix
and Eaton (Cleveland); Bank United (Houston), which in turn purchased
Diebold; and Bank United’s PR agency, Neuman Roussell (Houston).
With a tight budget and short timeline - only six weeks from the first
brainstorming sessions until product kick off - the strategy needed to
be right on target from the start. ’The bottom line was to raise
consumer awareness,’ says Sensar PR manager David Shane.
There were secondary goals too. United Bank and Diebold wanted to be
positioned as technology leaders and innovators, while the bank was also
looking to generate traffic to its new supermarket-based ATM
Sensar also sought to raise the knowledge and awareness of other
decision-making bankers to use the technology in their facilities.
In an attention-grabbing, made-for-the-media event, Sensar’s PR team
demonstrated the ability of its technology to recognize even the minute
differences between the irises of identical twins. At a May 13 press
conference inside a Houston Kroger foodstore, the first iris ATM was
unveiled in front of dozens of TV crews and print reporters - where it
was demonstrated that the ATM technology recognized one twin who had
enrolled in the system, rejecting his identical counterpart.
Strategically planned leaks proved successful in creating a pre-event
buzz, with features appearing in key papers such as The Wall Street
Journal the day before the event.
’While new technology is coming out daily, in terms of news, our event
had a consumer angle. If we had done a hi-tech announcement with
scientists talking about the iris of the eye, I don’t think we would
have had the level of media success we did,’ says Shane.
To make the product roll out more interesting, a series of TV monitors
were placed around the bank area to provide an extra visual element.
Shane explains, ’While iris recognition sounds like an exciting James
Bond event, in actuality, it is not very exciting. You don’t see much.
So an animated computer program showed observers the process of an eye
being mapped and reflected an imaginary flight through the iris of the
eye,’ says Shane.
This was superimposed on the actual shot of one of the twins’ eyes on
the monitor. ’Almost every station that ran visuals picked up this
b-roll,’ he adds. Neuman Roussell also filmed the press conference on
beta and put up a VNR immediately following.
Results A media kit with the b-roll tape was released at the Houston
The event was picked up on the newsfeed like wildfire, says Shane.
’Within 48 hours of the press conference, we had 399 hits in local and
national TV news, including live appearances on CNN, CNNfn and network
affiliates in Houston, Dallas and Philadelphia.’
More than 750 print news stories on the ATM roll out - many of them
significant feature profiles - have appeared in newspapers in all 50
states during May and June, 1999. Some of the coverage highlights
included a front page, above-the-fold article in The Washington Post,
the cover of Bank News magazine’s June issue, and feature stories on
CNN’s Moneyline and Headline News.
Bank United enrolled 260 new bank customers in the first 14 banking days
following the press conference. And to date, the bank has not spent one
dollar on paid media advertising for the roll-out. Sensar was inundated
with calls from bank prospects wanting to test out the technology.
Diebold received the greatest single amount of media concentration on a
single announcement in its company’s history.
The next step for this campaign will be initiated in approximately six
months with an extensive survey of customers who are currently using the
ATMs. Another press conference will introduce the research.