It’s Lights, Camera, Action For Goodyear Tire Effort

With dramatic special effects and an action-movie director behind the camera, two spots that break today for Goodyear Tire & Rubber’s Assurance line aim to sell the technological benefits of the brand, the company’s first new tire line in 14 years.

Charged with Goodyear’s biggest tire launch since 1992’s Aquatred (on which the company spent an estimated $100 million in marketing), Hitchcock Fleming & Associates in Akron, Ohio, enlisted Jan de Bont to shoot a 30-second spot and a 90-second “mini-movie” for the line.

Shot on location in Iceland with digital effects added later, the ads, titled “Assurance World,” show a vehicle fitted with Assurance tires as it navigates treacherous terrain, including black-sand volcanic beaches and icy, snow-covered glaciers. After a driver calmly evades flash floods, avalanches and rock slides, a voiceover by actor Patrick Stewart describes the tires’ three types of treads, designed to handle icy, wet and normal driving conditions.

The spot will run during the NBA playoffs on ESPN and on cable networks such as Discovery and the History Channel. The mini-movie will run in theaters nationwide.

HF&A turned to de Bont, director of Speed, Twister and The Haunting, because of his ability to make weather-related effects “larger than life,” said Keith Busch, the independent agency’s senior account manager for Goodyear. “We knew we wanted to use live footage and retouching and other special effects,” Busch said. “De Bont had the most experience with the combination of live-action footage and computer-generated images.”

The effort is meant to put a “halo effect” around the entire Goodyear brand, said Jack DeLeo, HF&A president and CEO.

“We think the Assurance tire line will be one of the cornerstones for [Goodyear unit] North American Tire in ’04,” said Larry Mason, president of NAT’s consumer-tire division. “It’s going to be critical for us, because we think it re-establishes our leadership in innovation and technology in the tire business, and it will also be a source of significant units, revenue and earnings for North American Tire.”

In 2003, market-share leader Goodyear Tire & Rubber, with its Goodyear, Kelly and Dunlop brands, held 19.2 percent of the U.S. replacement consumer-tire market, according to trade publication Modern Tire Dealer. Michelin North America captured 16.4 percent, while Bridgestone held 15.8 percent, according to MTD.

HF&A, which has worked with the client for more than 50 years, handles Goodyear’s retail and new-products business. Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco handles image advertising and created the tagline, “On the wings of Goodyear,” which appears in the spot.

Agency and Goodyear officials would not disclose spending on the effort, but said it would be the biggest marketing outlay since the Aquatred launch. Last year, Goodyear spent more than $60 million on ads for all of its tire lines, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.