Hankook Tires

Why We Love Hankook – A little Fetish Play Goes A Long Way!

Hankook Tires had been in Canada for 20 years with moderate market share but very little brand awareness.  

With Inspires extensive experience in the automotive sector and always loving a challenge – we really, really wanted the Hankook account.

Korean companies were emerging as powerhouse brands and aggressively chased growth in North America.   Hankook was no exception, and with a nimble but extremely forward-thinking marketing team of one – there was plenty of opportunity with the right strategy.

Doing our deep-dive audit of their brand culture internally & externally, we knew that STEP 1 was to immerse ourselves within Hankook crew becoming their “in-house” marketing team until they could grow their numbers from within.  

We sat in on product & sales meetings,  met with both their vendor and retail partners, snooped (legally) on competitors and trained eager-to -learn staff on everything we had learned in marketing in this sector.

We learned that Hankook had industry lauded, OE loved, superior product but the consumer perception in Canada was that Korean products were cheaper and thus not as well made.   Hankook was neither cheap nor mediocre.  STEP 2 – Educate while Elevate.  

Footprint Fetish Ad for Hankook Tire

Hankook’s current marketing was to promote through OE inspired ads.  Shiny BMW and Porsches helped establish that high-end message for BMW & Porsche but did little to move the awareness of Hankook.

With neither Hankook nor Inspire shy of risking it all – it was time really push the needle.  Embracing the rubber lovers in all of us,  we rolled out the globally award winning “Footprint Fetish Campaign” across all mediums including giant billboards along core commuting routes like the Gardener.

We piggybacked the strong brand recognition of the Toronto Maple Leafs & Raptors by securing & managing their sponsorship deal engaging fans inside & outside the arena at every opportunity.

The Results:  During our tenure,  Hankook’s market share grew from 12th to 5th and we increased measured brand awareness every year.   Our campaigns won global recognition from the UK, USA and Canada. 


“I was first introduced to Inspire in 2002 when Hankook Tire planned to expand its sales and market share. Hankook Tire then was looking for an agency that is not only capable of working closely with it but also is fast and quick enough in adapting to aggressive marketing strategy that Hankook Tire was pursuing. Inspire’s hard work and their effort in placing Hankook Tire among other leading tire companies paid off and the result was phenomenal. Hankook Tire’s public awareness had increased and so had its sales. Inspire is detail oriented and customer friendly. Their creativeness and execution are true inspiration to many of their clients, including Hankook Tire.”

Jin Lee

Marketing Manager