CHIEF AUTO STEERS FOR QUALITY POSITIONING:$3 MIL AD EFFORT PUTS AIKMAN IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT FOR NO. 4 RETAILER

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Chief Auto Parts Stores is steering away from everyday low pricing and repositioning itself around quality with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman sitting behind the wheel.

The No. 4 retailer in the auto parts aftermarket today launches its repositioning effort with its biggest single push ever, a $3 million-plus campaign from Davis, Ball & Colombatto, Los Angeles.

INTEGRATED CAMPAIGN

The integrated marketing campaign consists of TV, print, radio and point-of-purchase ads. Davis has produced three commercials with Mr. Aikman-"In Shape" touts Chief's commitment to increasing the number of brand name products its 530 stores stock; "Whatever It Takes" addresses Chief's remodeling and expansion efforts; and a Spanish-language spot targets that key segment, especially in Texas and the Southwest.

Chief's emphasis on quality will be evidenced at retail with the addition of some 9,000 products by the end of the year. The influx of products is a major reason for the remodeling effort, with an average store growing from 3,700 square feet to 6,000 square feet.

Chief wants to expand to 600 stores by the close of 1996.

In recent years, marketing warfare among the leaders in auto parts retailing has been fought with claims of good products at good prices.

`NOT MOVING AWAY FROM VALUE'

"We're not moving away from value. Our pricing will still be very competitive," said Kerry Cason, Chief's director of advertising and public affairs. "But with this campaign, we are repositioning ourselves around quality, brand names and class. We believe the message breaks through the clutter [of] pricing messages."

Mr. Aikman's endorsement will also help Chief distinguish itself from the competition.

ESTABLISHING AIKMAN

"We recognize this will be a long process," said Mr. Cason. "In the first year, we really want to establish Mr. Aikman as our spokesman, so our ads in this year will take a softer approach."

For Chief, Mr. Aikman's credibility-the GQ quarterback is a car buff and racing enthusiast-was just as important as his Q rating and three Super Bowl rings.

The former University of California/Los Angeles star's strong appeal among African-Americans and Hispanics and his popularity in California, a key market for Chief, also weighed significantly in his signing.

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