Local PR firm RRRs for Tim Allen tools

Drills: Imre & Associates wins the contract to represent tools bearing the name of `Home Improvement' star Tim Allen.

July 17, 1999|By Rachel Sams | Rachel Sams,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

They are Imre & Associates; hear them roar. Or rather, "RRR."

"RRR" is a sound familiar to fans of the Tim Allen show "Home Improvement" -- it's Allen's battle cry, the primal scream of a guy who loves his tools. What those same fans may not know is that Allen started his own line of tools, Tim Allen Signature Tools, in 1996.

Imre & Associates LLC, a 6-year-old Towson public relations firm, has been hired to get that message out to tool lovers across the country.

"Part of our job is to show people these are serious tools," said Dave Imre, president of Imre & Associates. Imre said that because people know Allen as a comedian, many potential customers thought Allen's tools were toys when they saw them on store shelves.

The agency's first task was to help Tim Allen Signature Tools publicize its power tools, which began appearing in stores in December. Allen's signature line began with a hammer and later expanded to include other hand tools. The new power tools include several cordless drills, a jig saw and a sander.

Imre would not disclose how much the agency's contract with Tim Allen Signature Tools is worth, but he said the contract accounted for only a small part of the agency's hardware and home improvement business, a sector that includes 30 to 40 percent of its accounts.

"We took [the contract] not for the money, but for the prestige," said Imre. "It's not a significant portion of our revenues at this point."

Imre met Allen when he flew out to Hollywood for a recent media event. He was impressed with Allen's knowledge of tools and his dedication to children's charities.

"He's got a real commitment to family," Imre said of Allen. "He says it, but he also carries it out."

All of the profits from Tim Allen Signature Tools go to children's charities. Since its inception the tool line has donated more than $750,000 to various charities, Imre said.

Allen's team learned of Imre & Associates through Ryobi North America Inc., a tool company that makes power tools for Allen's line. Imre & Associates has been doing PR work for Ryobi for about four years.

Imre & Associates' experience in public relations fit nicely with the tool line's needs, said Rob Cowin, president of Tim Allen Signature Tools. Until later this year, when the line begins advertising, Tim Allen Signature Tools will be relying solely on its public relations campaign to get its name out to the public.

"Public relations is real important for us," said Cowin. "We don't have a big budget [devoted] to national advertising. Every nickel I can save is more money we can give to children's charities."

While relying almost solely on a public relations campaign is somewhat unusual for a national product line, Imre is confident that the nine-member firm's experience in public relations will make the campaign a success.

"We're hoping this account helps us grow in the hardware/home improvement industry," Imre said. "We've already got a foothold there." Along with Ryobi, Imre & Associates has done public relations for Illinois Tool Works Inc.

Other high-profile Imre & Associates clients in various fields include potato-chip maker Snyder's of Hanover, U.S. Foodservice and the insurer, St. Paul Cos. Inc.

In addition to the tool line, Imre & Associates will be publicizing Tim Allen Signature Stuff, tool-related products for kids, including project kits for building a clock and a birdhouse, plus a Tool Bear that goes "RRR" when you poke it.

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