Dunlop makes it mark

How much money would it take to persuade you to change your name from Mr. Dunlop to Mr. Dunlop Tires? That is just what the global tire giant is daring people to do as part of a new promotion.

How much money would it take to persuade you to change your name from Mr. Dunlop to Mr. Dunlop Tires? That is just what the global tire giant is daring people to do as part of a new promotion.

During the next few months, Toronto-based Dunlop Tires will be holding a series of events in the major markets across Canada in an effort to re-launch its flagging brand image. The most bizarre of these events is a challenge issued to anyone by the name of Dunlop to legally change their name to Dunlop Tires. A substantial cash sum, which has yet to be agreed upon, will be awarded to the first person to meet this challenge.

The aim of the ‘Make Your Mark,’ campaign is to offer people the chance to do something out of the ordinary. This month, business people were asked to jump, fully clothed in office attire, into a tire-shaped ‘Dunlop Cool Pool,’ set up at the Toronto Dominion Centre Courtyard on Bay Street in downtown Toronto. Six people took the plunge into the 3.6-metre inflatable pool and Dunlop donated $100 to Big Brothers & Sisters of Canada for each participant. The stunt will be repeated in Montreal and Winnipeg in September.

In another event, called Dunlop Drop Tops, people in downtown Vancouver and Toronto were approached by the Dunlop team and offered rides in convertible Ferraris or Lamborghinis, which featured the Dunlop brand logo. Meanwhile, urban fashion shoots took place in the trendy bar-districts of Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, featuring models dressed in leather gear with the Dunlop logo, using Harley Davidson motorbikes with Dunlop tires as props.

Approximately 10 more fund-raising charity events will take place across the country in summer and fall, including helicopter rides and a race across 100 tires in a cordoned-off street. Details of the other promos, all of which make use of tires, have yet to be revealed. Toronto-based PR event company, Environics Communications, organized all of the events.

‘It’s all about trying to put people in places and situations that they haven’t experienced before in order to create a memory that they won’t forget,’ explains Ian McIntosh, director of advertising and marketing at Dunlop Tires. ‘Hopefully, they will associate that memory with the Dunlop brand.’

‘What better way is there to make your mark than to change your name?’ he continues.

For the last 16 months Dunlop has been carrying out an extensive research program to establish a target group for the campaign. Environics was then hired to organize a series of events that would appeal to young, educated, urban professionals, Dunlop’s key customers. Dunlop chose to hold all of the events in key downtown locations in order to reach this core target group.

Competition from the myriad of other tire brands played a significant part in initiating this campaign. ‘The tire business is a dog’s fight for any portion of the market share these days so we had to really come out of the box to make a dramatic impact,’ says McIntosh. ‘Dunlop has been a tried and proven brand for 110 years but it has been neglected in Canada for the last two decades,’ he continues. ‘We decided it was time to readjust our focus, get back on the ball and re-market our brand.’

As part of the promotion, Dunlop Tires is giving away sets of free tires to members of its Friends and Family group, in order to build brand awareness.

The brand is not carrying out any mainstream advertising at the moment, although McIntosh says that a reassessment will take place at the end of the year, when the results of the ‘Make Your Mark’ promo are established.

‘We are looking towards doing some mainstream advertising next year, which may include broadcasting and print,’ he says. A Web site for the brand will also be set up shortly.