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(May 31, 2001) -- Continental Tire North America Inc., Charlottte, N.C., moved up its $5 million ad campaign by at least a month in the wake of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s public squabble with Ford Motor Co. over the safety of certain Firestone-brand tires and the Ford Explorer sport utility.

The work for the Continental brand, which broke in USA Today Tuesday, is the first from new agency Boone/Oakley, Charlotte.

The independent shop, formed by two former creatives from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., won the account last fall after a review.

The German-owned tire maker hasn't advertised in this country in a couple of years, said Jim Mayfield, director of corporate marketing. Continental bought a four-week schedule in USA Today, he said.

"In Europe, Continental is a very strong brand. It's time for us to start building that brand here."

The new tagline is "They're not just tires. They're Continental tires."

The agency created four print ads and will shoot a trio of 30-second TV spots the week of June 4, said David Oakley, the agency's co-founder and partner. The TV commercials will break later in the summer.

The tire maker changed its name early this year from Continental General Tire Inc.

Mr. Mayfield said Boone/Oakley will be creating a separate ad campaign for the General tire brand later this year. He said he expects to bring back the tagline "Sooner or later, you'll own Generals," which hasn't been used in more than two years.

"There's a lot of equity in that line, and our plan is to introduce young consumers to the brand." -- Jean Halliday

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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