When tire ads spoke of safety in recent years, one felt it was for lack of anything else to say. What could they discuss—the tire’s tangy rubber aroma? It wasn’t as if safety claims were compelling. After all, we assumed any big brand was safe enough. Now, after the Ford/Firestone fiasco, we’re apt to think otherwise, and Continental latches onto this concern. The life-preserver ploy lends some visual interest. Another ad in the series promises “Peace of Mind,” fitting a tire on a hub shaped like a peace symbol. Each ad is pleasant, but it treats a substantive issue in an insubstantial way. This one might be a nice public-service ad, reminding us to consider safety when buying tires. But it gives no serious reason to feel Continental is the brand on which worried drivers can rely. If anything, it might prompt us to buy Michelins—which, unlike Continental, do have a top-of-mind reputation for safety.
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