T&O Group Flexes Auto Muscles With New Client

Independent wheel company American Racing Wheels has hired The T&O Group following a review.

The client, based in Rancho Dominguez, Calif., also considered finalists Leventhal Mal kasian & Associates in Playa del Rey, Calif., and Arras Group in Cleveland, said director of marketing Tony Picarello.

Billings on the account are about $5 million, sources said. The client previously handled advertising chores in-house.

“Their media expertise, the size of the firm and their PR capabilities were the right combination for us,” Picarello said of T&O. “They’ve got a lot of roots in the car business or aftermarket, and they presented us with the team approach to identifying opportunities and creative solutions.”

The win allows the 50-person Irvine, Calif., shop to capitalize on the automotive expertise of several of its employees, said T&O president Dave Robinson, who once worked on Ford dealer business at Doner. In addition, account supervisor Mike Nash worked on Mitsubishi dealer business at Grey; creative director Mike Hall worked on Lincoln at Young & Rubicam; and executive creative director Scott Montgomery handled creative on Kawasaki while at Foote, Cone & Belding, Robinson said.

“Automotive aftermarket is a nice area for us in terms of adding to the agency’s portfolio,” added Robinson, who described American Racing Wheels as “a category leader in a category we have a passion for.”

Work for the 46-year-old wheel manufacturer will primarily include print creative, although the shop will test other media vehicles. T&O will handle media planning, but buying will remain in-house, said Picarello.

T&O’s first work for American Racing Wheels is expected in November. The shop is charged with promoting such brands as American Racing, American Racing Vintage, Epic, RO_JA and Motegi Racing.

Founded in 1983, T&O claimed 2001 billings of $60 million. The shop’s other clients include In-N-Out Burger, the National Association of Realtors, Fantastic Sams and Pioneer New Media Technologies.