Michelin promotes tires through road safety

Ad inspired by special effects in Chinese films

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BEIJING--Foreign automakers aren't alone in playing up performance to appeal to safety conscious drivers who must contend with China's treacherous national highway network.

For its first corporate brand campaign created specifically for China, Michelin has launched a spot featuring its iconic Michelin Man, already well-known on the mainland, as a champion of road safety under the slogan, "Safety: One Step Forward."

"China's road safety situation needs to be improved. We believe a leading tire brand like Michelin can contribute to this important objective for Chinese society," said Paul Lee, managing director of Omnicom Group's TBWA Worldwide, Beijing, which created the ad.

In an animated spot that plays on the flying acrobatics of popular Chinese films, Michelin Man safely and gracefully makes his way through a number of tricky situations that represent the challenges of driving in China, such as narrow roads represented by a bamboo forest, wet roads and icy driving conditions.

"Competition is heating up fast," said Beijing-based Emmanuel Ladent, VP-sales & marketing for Michelin's passenger car tire division in China. "In order to stay ahead, we believe we need to make the brand stand for something larger and closer to consumers' hearts than tires."

In addition to the TV, print and outdoor campaign, the French tire company is spreading its message and brand through the Michelin Safety Club TV Show, a weekly 30-minute TV show airing nationally on China's Tourism Satellite Television station starting this month.

The program tackles all aspects of road safety from tire maintenance to pedestrian etiquette to calling for the repair of dangerously damaged roads.

Future activities and events related to road-safety are also planned as part of the campaign, which will run at least through 2008, according to Mr. Ladent, "to make China's roads a safer and better place for everyone."
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