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ATG raises with Yokohama

Industrial and farming tires

After the inauguration of the new headquarters in Amsterdam and the creation of a new marketing team, the group, following the takeover by the Japanese producer, is determined to continue investing in the future with new products and a new advertising campaign centered around the consumer

Guido Gambassi

As announced in March, the acquisition of the Alliance Tire Group B.V. by Yokohama was finalized on July 1: a 1,179 million dollar transaction that will mark a critical step for both industrial groups. On the one hand, ATG, although now part of the Japanese group, will in fact continue to carry out its business independently, maintaining its brand, corporate culture and sales and customer relationship policies, relying on these new solid foundations to speed up its growth. Consolidated as an industrial  group in 2007 with the acquisition of the Alliance brand, ATG continued its growth by acquiring, in 2009, also Galaxy and Primex, and is now present in 120 markets across six continents, with 1,200 employees and 2,200 dealers across the world, generating sales for 529 million dollars in 2015, with a 95 million dollar profit.

A growth supported by a strong focus on product development – in fact 225 new products have been launched on the market over the past two years – with a new future outlook: "We are extremely positive about this new development at ATG" said Peter Baur, President of ATG Europe, "Yokohama has a great tradition and is one of the industry’s leaders. ATG will certainly benefit from Yokohama’s resources in terms of research and development, distribution networks, marketing and production. A huge wealth of experience that will help us in providing an even better service to our customers".

On the other hand, the Japanese giant is working towards strengthening its medium-term strategy with a strong expansion in the commercial segment, thus a specialized manufacturer of off-highway products such as ATG will strengthen its presence on industrial markets with the agricultural sector being particularly crucial in the next few decades, given the expected growth of the world population and consequent need for more food, which will create a huge demand for agricultural equipment and effective solutions.

The move to Yokohama followed a period of major changes at ATG, with the opening of a new European Headquarters in Amsterdam, and the creation of a new international marketing team committed to defining new commercial and communication strategies, led by the Danish Ole Baek, with British Jed Soar as Head of Training Europe and Dutch Kim Rijkers as Marketing Executive, in addition to two Italian managers, Michela Toffali (PR & communications Manager Europe) and Simone Hainz (Marketing Investigation and Intelligence Manager Europe). The team also includes Aron Calvin, Varunraj Jayswal and Vikrant Matondkar, based in the historic ATG headquarters in Mumbai.


Communication; back to the drawing board  

Among the first changes made by the new marketing team, we find the new European advertising campaign dedicated to Alliance, and officially presented during last May’s  Reifen at Essen: a pure branding campaign aimed at changing the traditional approach to the farming tire industry, focusing particularly on the farmers themselves and their daily work. This is how Ole Baek, head of European marketing, describes the idea that led to the creation of this campaign, present on most major European trade publications since June: "ATG has been able to build a solid network of local distributors who have a deep knowledge of their markets. Our distribution partners advertise Alliance products in the local press. As a manufacturer though, our aim is also to raise awareness around our brand as a whole and not our tires alone.

There seems to be a well-established idea on how to advertise farming tires: everyone uses a technical language, the same color backgrounds and the image of the product in plain view, often set in a sunny wheat field. This campaign represents a clean break with this traditional  approach and we decided to address the farmers directly with their small and great daily challenges, so that’s why in our campaign the farmers are the real protagonists, along with our best tires that have already proven to be reliable when it is time to take the field". Four farmers, in their respective environments and with their machines, portray the four subjects of the campaign, which are identified with four different keywords emphasizing their working characteristics: tough, humble, vulnerable and tireless.  "Farmers perform extraordinary things every single day, in every condition: tirelessly", says Baek, "they are the ones who have really inspired this new campaign and we want to let them know that ATG is on their side, working just as tirelessly to produce extraordinary tires and reach extraordinary results along with them".  President Peter Baur further adds: "ATG wants to stand out: our products really speak for themselves and our marketing communications now follow the same path. Our main challenge was and is to enhance the reputation of ATG brands in Europe, and there was only one way of doing it: leave traditions behind. Marketing communication in the tire industry is so impersonal and focused exclusively on the product. We wanted to be closer to the public. ATG has always understood the needs of our customers, and now is the time to pay homage to their pride as farmers and speak their language, instead of our own ". This new communication strategy starts with Alliance but will soon be extended to the Galaxy brand with its industrial and OTR tires.

The advertising campaign is also supported by product communication where, once again, the farmer and the end user are at the very heart of the matter: every month direct customer experiences are told, users who have tested our tires in various European countries, thus becoming our ambassadors.


A flurry of new products   

The efforts of more than one hundred R&D engineers currently working in the manufacturing facilities in Israel and India translated in the launch of 45 new products for the single Alliance brand in 2016. This outstanding effort focused especially on Agriflex and Agriflex + lines, characterized by Improved Flexion technology (IF) and Very High Flexion (VF) respectively, keeping in touch with the evolution of the agricultural sector, ever more devoted to maximizing productivity. The market expects better and faster results and in order to meet this challenge, the trend is clear: machines are designed to be bigger and faster. Although this is obviously an advantage in terms of increased power and load, large machines are, just as obviously, much heavier, which in turn results in greater ground compaction.

The introduction of VF / IF technologies in tractor tires made it possible to minimize the problem of soil compaction while maintaining the same load with a lower inflation pressure or the same inflation pressure increasing the load at the same time. The group’s latest range was well represented by some of the key products unveiled during the last Reifen at Essen, where ATG, who was present as an exhibitor, introduced its new marketing campaign and some of the news related to both the new location and the new partnership with Yokohama. The Alliance 378 AGRISTAR XL line saw the debut of a new size, destined to  the European market, the new 900/60 R42; this range of large tires has been developed for high-power tractors (over 300 hp), harvesting machines, trailers, manure spreaders and sprayers, or for any type of applications requiring efficient heavy loads transport with maximum soil protection. Alliance Agriflex 372 IF High Speed ​​Radial, destined to tractors and  harvesters, was designed to provide higher load capacity and speed with minimal soil compaction.

Maintaining the same inflation pressure of standard radials, the high flexibility of the sidewalls allows for a  20% load increase. On the other hand, the new Alliance 380 Agritransport VF  aspires at exceeding the performance of flotation tires for which TAG is known, thanks to its Very High Flexion technology which allows you to maintain the same load with an inflation pressure reduction of 30%, or keep the same inflation pressure but with a 40% load increase compared to traditional radials. Their sturdy steel casings are designed to resist damage and reduce rolling resistance, enhancing energy efficiency.

Furthermore, Alliance A380VF enhances the benefits of reduced soil compaction by optimizing trailer performance: VF technology will also, in fact, be applied to the trailer tires, which, from now on, will benefit from a significant reduction in inflation pressure, without having to buy new wheels or modifying the existing ones. Galaxy too, made its presence felt at Reifen : Jumbo Hulk is a tire for industrial tractors and diggers, whose L-4 tread pattern was designed for especially challenging conditions, and its net-to-gross ratio maximizes the contact pressure reducing wear and tear, while the Galaxy Yardmaster Solid is a forklift tire offering maximum efficiency working in harbors. Moreover, several additional new products have already been announced by the group in the coming months, until the end of 2016.

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