NOW EVERY TOMMASO, DICK AND HARRY UNDERSTANDS THAT PIRELLI IS NOT A SPAGHETTI. CAPISH?
Pirelli is an Italian steel-belted radial tire, quite possibly the finest in the world. In Europe, Pirelli has always been a synonym for class. But in 1974 very few Americans except car freaks knew anything about this amazing tire. Even though they had spent about a million smackers a year advertising for several years in the U.S., only 3% of car owners had ever heard of Pirelli. In 1973 the President of Pirelli asked me if I could come up with a big idea to build sales. Pirelli was a pioneer in radials, and wanted a bigger piece of the US. action. I told them they had to become famous, fast. And I told them that we could do it on TV for the same kind of money they had been spending in magazines. Pirelli in America had always hidden the fact that they were Italian. As far as I was concerned, a tire with Italian origin was part of that country's great racing and car design tradition, and should be sold with those rich image associations.
So instead of showing the typical cross sections and torture tests and macho spokesmen (the copywriter was Rudy Fiala, one of the four best writers I've ever worked with) we chose a high fashion model with a glorious Italian accent and with the lyrical name Apollonia, to sell Pirelli. She wore a custom-made dress with Pirelli logos as its design, ala Pucci. And she spoke in a voluptuous northern Italian brogue, sensually rolling the name Pirelli on her sophisticated tongue, always caressing a Pirelli tire, even swinging in one. In a few weeks, unaided awareness of Pirelli shot up to 22.5% while aided awareness zoomed to 70.5%! Also Pirelli's quality rating was perceived to be much higher than Goodyear, Goodrich and Firestone. (Yet Pirelli was spending one-fifteenth of what the big three were investing in advertising!) So for the first time, many a Tommaso, Dick and Harry, instead of being hard-selled into it, were going into tire stores and asking specifically for Pirelli, the molto fantastico tire.