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Imagining a World Without Shock Absorbers

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DETROIT ( -- Tenneco automotive is targeting Wall Street with its first corporate branding campaign since its spin-off from conglomerate
One of Tenneco's new spots is a visit to the everyday world minus shock absorbers.
parent Tenneco Inc. three years ago.

The global marketer of Monroe shock absorbers and Walker mufflers breaks an estimated $5 million, all-TV push Sept. 9 created by independent Red Phone, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., which will air through late October.

Metro New York
Spot TV in metropolitan New York accounts for roughly 75% of the media buy, from Media Period, also Bloomfield Hills. The spot cable buy includes financial and sports programming. The ads will also be seen locally on broadcast networks' nightly news programs. The spots air nationally on General Electric Co.'s CNBC.

Tenneco's stock fell by nearly 60% last September to $2.10 per share and by October the marketer was fighting speculation it would file for bankruptcy, according to Advertising Age sibling Automotive News. But its stock price has been climbing since hitting a low of $1.75 late last year, when

it tallied annual revenues of $3.4 billion. The stock traded at close to $7 Aug. 26.

Chopped debt
Tenneco's Jim Spangler, the vice president who oversaw the new campaign, said the financial community painted the marketer with the same broad brush as other auto suppliers in 2001, several of which have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. One reason: Tenneco's spin-off left it highly leveraged, with $1.7 billion in debt.

"We put our heads down and really chopped away at that debt," he said. "We saw our operations strengthening ... so it was time to increase awareness."

One 30-second spot in black and white shows a businessman reading the newspaper's financial pages. The stock symbols of General Motors Corp. and retail chains like Napa Auto Parts "drive" toward Tenneco's stock symbol "Ten" on the page. The narrator asks where top car and auto supply companies go for their shock absorbers and mufflers. "Our symbol is Ten. Our mission is go" is the tag.

The other 30-second commercial, in color, asks what life would be like without Monroe shock absorbers.

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