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Hankook: Sports marketing anchors 2004 strategy

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Sports marketing is the "anchor" of Hankook Tire America Corp.'s 2004 strategy to increase brand awareness, according to Marketing Director Bill Bainbridge.

The company's recently updated program with Major League Baseball is one example. Involving 13 American and National League teams, it will showcase the new Hankook logo on signage behind home plate during games.

Bainbridge said Hankook enjoyed more than four billion impressions through its sports marketing programs with baseball, the National Hockey Association, pro and college basketball and the National Football League last year.

Hankook also announced it was sponsoring a nine-event drifting program at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway beginning this month.

Sports marketing isn't the only way the company plans to make a name for itself. New tires and original equipment fitments also are critical parts of the company's strategy.

Hankook recently rolled out the following new tires for 2004:

* Ventus Z212, a Z-rated ultra-high performance tire. Based on the company's Z211 R-type D.O.T. racing tire, the Z212 is available in 11 15- through 18-inch sizes.

* Optimo H418, a high performance all-season touring tire. The H-rated tire is available in 17 65- and 60-series series sizes and features a solid central rib for handling and control.

* AH10, a wide-base all-position truck tire. The super single is available in two 18-ply sizes: 385/65R22.5 and 425/65R22.5 (the latter also is manufactured in a 20-ply size).

* AH12, a steering and all-position truck tire. It is designed for both regional and pickup and delivery service and is available in 10 sizes.

* DL01, a long-haul traction drive axle truck tire. It will be available in four 14-ply sizes and two 16-ply sizes.

In 2003, Hankook announced it was supplying DynaPro tires to Ford Motor Co. for the 2004 model-year F-150 pickup -- the company's second OE contract in North America. (Hankook began supplying S300 high-pressure radial spare tires to Ford in 1999 for the 2000 model year Ford Focus.)

"In the coming year, we're going to expand our supply to the car companies," said CEO and President J.W. Choi.

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