LAS VEGAS—Brad Pitt or the Kardashians hawking tires in a Vogue magazine ad?
It could happen if Omni United Pte. Ltd.'s collaboration with Timberland L.L.C., a globally recognized footwear and outerwear brand worn by a variety of celebrities, plays out as expected.
The Singapore-based tire distributor hopes to tie the humble tire to the consumer fashion world with the launch of three lines of Timberland-brand premium passenger and light truck tires into the U.S. market next spring, officials from the companies announced at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas, Nov. 4.
Omni United, owner of the Radar, Goodride, Roadlux and Corsa tire brands distributed in the U.S.—not exactly household names among consumers—hopes to catch consumers' attention with the recognizable Timberland brand name.
“We want to bring fashion into the tire market. It's been a successful model in other industries,” said Sagra Maceira, an Omni United advisory board member. “We want to change the perception of tires with the average consumer. It's a ‘want to have' vs. ‘have to have' tire brand.”
If one views tires as the “shoes” of a car, the Timberland name brings panache.
“There is such a big consumer angle here,” said G.S. Sareen, CEO and president of Omni United. “When did you last see an advertisement for a tire in a consumer magazine? Did you ever see an ad in Vogue or Harper's Bazaar?
“Now you see, once in a while, a Bridgestone ad in Golf Digest. … There is nothing exciting. There are no celebrity endorsements. There are no personalities talking about the product. So there is not a focus on the consumer.
“It's being sold on various attributes and so forth, but the consumers don't get it. … So when we go all out, it will be a very strong push on the consumer side,” he said.
Omni expects to advertise in consumer magazines and have Timberland retailers as channel partners. Instead of just a set of tires appearing in an ad, Mr. Sareen said, an ad with a celebrity touting the tires “will have a little more draw. So we want to use every possible tool that this partnership offers us to draw the consumers' attention to this product and the cause.”