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Prestone Spots Back New Car-Care Line

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Prestone launches an automobile-care line with ads that link the products with the protective qualities of the brand's better-known antifreeze and coolant.

Two 30-second commercials from McCann-Erickson in Troy, Mich., break today for Prestone Wax, Tire Shine, Wheel Cleaner and Car Wash.

Like previous spots that featured Jillian Barberie, who does the weather report for Fox's NFL coverage, the new campaign has a humorous tone. In one execution, two stereotypical mobsters in dark suits and slicked-back hair approach a guy washing his car in his driveway and offer him "protection." They show him a suitcase containing the four new car-care products.

The previous tagline, "It's Prestone season," which was viewed as implying that the brand was not a year-round product, has been changed to "Prestone protection. Inside and out."

"This idea is very direct," said Charlie Metzger, McCann executive vice president, director of client services and business development. "People are going to get it immediately."

In the past, Prestone, part of the Honeywell Consumer Products Group, has limited its advertising to the fall with spots for its antifreeze. For the past two years, the work featured Barberie, who has been dropped in an effort to offer a message that moves away from the seasonal theme, Metzger said.

"It's a change in strategic direction that is really designed to take Prestone out of just the antifreeze segment," Metzger said. Prestone's affiliation with the NFL ended last year, and the company is uncertain whether it will renew for this fall, Metzger said.

Spending was not revealed but could increase with the additional round of advertising. Prestone spent about $10 million on ads in 2002, according to CMR.

The new campaign, which includes trade print and point-of-sale, targets sports fans and automotive do-it-yourselfers between 25 and 54. TV will air nationally on ESPN, TNN, the Speed Channel and Outdoor Life Network.

Two 30-second commercials that have been produced to back Prestone antifreeze in the fall also feature the mobsters.

One spot shows the motorist from the spot that breaks this week sitting on the road outside his car, which has broken down.

The mobsters pull up and jump out of their car. "We offered you protection and you didn't listen. Boys, show him the trunk," one says, motioning to his two burly henchmen. They pick up the struggling motorist and direct him to the trunk of their car, which opens to reveal the familiar yellow jug of Prestone antifreeze and coolant.

"We found that most people associate Prestone with quality vehicle protection," said Jeff Bye, Prestone vice president. But most car-care products available on the market are seen as cleaning supplies and do not address motorists' need to protect the outside of their vehicles, he said.

Prestone's competitors include Turtle Wax and Armor All.