Continental Takes the High Road

Boone/Oakley breaks its television campaign for Continental Tires this week.

The Charlotte, N.C., agency’s mission is to build brand awareness for the local subsidiary of German tire maker Continental AG.

“No one in the U.S. knows Continental as a tire company,” said creative director and partner John Boone. “People think of airlines, banks and insurance companies.”

The campaign budget is $5 million. The media buy includes runson Survivor 3, The X Files, Weakest Link, Frasier, Scrubs and TheMole in North Carolina and Detroit markets.

“We chose these shows because they target an upscale group with a sophisticated sense of humor,” said Boone. “And because they match the commercials’ tone.”

Peter Darley Miller of Stiefel + Co. in Santa Monica, Calif., directed an action flick and two “moment” spots featuring men devoted more to the care of their Continental tires than their Mercedes or BMWs.

In “Thief,” a young man removes his tires when leaving his car unattended. When seen by a suspicious beat cop, the owner shrugs, “You can never be too careful around here.”

“Wash” is a tight look at another 20-something mixing a tire-cleaning compound, which he applies with a toothbrush and a lot of elbow grease. When finished, he steps back with pride. The tires sparkle. The rest of his car, a Ford Explorer coated with road dirt, is ignored.

“Squirt” is the action drama of the trio. In this 30-second spot, a white-collar manager on the phone with a friend is distracted by the appearance, down on the street, of a sniffing dog. The man drops the phone and races down five flights of stairs to fling himself between his tires and the dog’s uplifted leg. The tagline, “They’re not just tires. They’re Continental tires,” is delivered by a female voiceover at the end of the spot.

“We want the brand to come across as more sophisticated and thought a woman’s voice helped do that,” said David Oakley, agency partner, creative director and copywriter.

According to Boone/Oakley account supervisor Taylor Busby, tire purchases are split 50-50 between the sexes. Print buys divided between business journals such as Business Week and Money and female-targeted shelter magazines like Elle Decor and Metropolitan Home reflect this dichotomy.