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

this trend.’

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

about NailGard.

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


Alan Salomon


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.’

Jan Jaben-Eilon


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

media conference.

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.

Deborah Hauss.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in