CAMPAIGNS: Dunlop revived by sumo-size effort

PR Team: Environics Communications (Toronto) and Goodyear Canada (Toronto)Campaign: Dunlop Tires Sumo Smackdown Time Frame: June 2001 - August 2002Budget: $35,000

PR Team: Environics Communications (Toronto) and Goodyear Canada (Toronto) Campaign: Dunlop Tires Sumo Smackdown Time Frame: June 2001 - August 2002 Budget: $35,000

In recent years, the Dunlop tire brand had received little marketing support in Canada. So when Goodyear Canada bought the North American rights to the brand from another tire maker, it sought to revive brand awareness, dealer interest, and consumer sales of Dunlops. It searched for an agency that could come up with creative events to draw attention to the brand, and convince dealers to carry Dunlop again. ?The brand had been orphaned over the last 20 years, with no marketing budget,? explains Josh Cobden, VP in Environics' Toronto office. Strategy Goodyear Canada sought to position Dunlop as a brand that would appeal to men from their late 20s to mid-30s, who seek prestige brands. ?They may not drive BMWs now, but they aspire to,? says Cobden. Working with Goodyear's ad agency, a tagline was developed for Dunlop: ?Make your mark.? The new slogan would remind potential buyers of tires (which, of course, make a mark), and allude to the target audience's desire to make their mark in their careers and lives. Tactics Environics proposed a series of events across Canada that would attract the attention of the target audience, as well as get dealers to consider carrying Dunlop tires again. ?We set out to do a lot of eye-catching initiatives,? says Ian McIntosh, GM of advertising and marketing services for Goodyear Canada. ?We needed to stand out from the crowd. We wanted to be a little flamboyant.? One of the major events devised by Environics was the Dunlop Tires Sumo Smackdown. The agency discovered that a North American sumo event was coming to Toronto. It secured sponsorship of the event for Dunlop, and then scheduled a special sumo demonstration in the heart of Toronto's financial district. ?A sumo-wrestling event in downtown Toronto outside these consumers' offices is something they don't get to see that often,? says Cobden, so a lunchtime exhibition was scheduled with 20 wrestlers. People also had the chance to don inflated sumo suits, and pretend they too were sumo wrestlers. Three days before the event, people wearing sumo suits walked through Toronto's financial district with signs touting it. Agency staffers sent 50-60 e-mails to people they knew in the area, telling them about the upcoming event and asking them to pass the message along. The e-mail chain reached 1,000 people. Media outreach started about four days before the event. Auto writers were contacted, as were newspaper and TV sports desks, general-assignment reporters, newspaper photo desks, and morning TV shows. Radio stations were offered interviews with the wrestlers. Dealers that carry Dunlop tires were invited to the event, as were potential dealers. And consumers in attendance were offered free photos of themselves with sumo wrestlers. Results Eighteen media outlets ? including the three major Canadian broadcast networks ? covered the smackdown. Roughly 2,500 people in the target market attended the event, and an estimated 10,000 more watched from office windows surrounding the plaza where the Sumo Smackdown was held. More than 1,000 Dunlop tire coupons were given away, and 450 people stood in line to have their photos taken with wrestlers. The Sumo Smackdown and other events held during the year ? such as offering to give $25,000 to people who would change their last name from Dunlop to Dunlop-Tire (four people agreed, and split the money) ? attracted the desired dealer attention. More importantly, Canadian Tire, the country's largest tire retailer, agreed to carry the Dunlop brand. Overall, shipments to dealers increased 60% compared to shipments in 2001. ?I'm really encouraged by the distribution,? says McIntosh. Future Environics plans to continue developing events that will promote the Dunlop brand. ?Our desire is to get in consumers' faces where they are,? McIntosh says of his PR objectives. ?We're going to continue more spending for PR. This buzz arena is absolutely ideal for the type of consumer we're trying to reach.?

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