AKRON-Claiming it holds the technological edge in wet-weather traction, Michelin has made a direct attack on the Goodyear Aquatred in a marketing campaign aimed at tire dealers. The company currently is running full-page advertisements in trade publications stating, ``In the wet, three grooves are better than one,'' and showing, face-to-face, the tread patterns of Michelin's MX4 and the Aquatred.
``It was a tactical decision on our part,'' said Jim Brown, vice president of brand marketing for Michelin Americas Small Tires. ``The (Aquatred) concept has such attention and notoriety brought to it, we felt that would be the most effective way to get our message across.''
Mr. Brown said the ``unique'' center-groove channel and Goodyear's own marketing efforts have contributed to the popularity of the Aquatred design.
But Michelin contends the MX4's three, square-shaped circumferential grooves evacuate water better than the Aquatred's single ``V-shaped'' design.
The ``three-grooves'' advertisement states a ``nationally known'' independent testing laboratory found the MX4 all-season radial outperformed the Aquatred during every stage of a 42,000-mile testing period. The tires were run at 20 and 60 mph during the testing period, according to Michelin.
The campaign explains ``the technological advantage Michelin holds'' over the competition in terms of wet-weather traction, Mr. Brown said.
Dealers will soon receive a brochure also explaining the benefits of the MX4, he said.
Although Michelin claims the MX4 performs better than the Aquatred in the wet, Goodyear has announced its own independent lab tests showing its own superiority.
And in February, Consumer Reports rated the Aquatred first in stopping and cornering ability over 10 all-season, wet-weather tires.
The magazine did not include the MX4 in the tests.
Michelin's current campaign is intended to help dealers understand the technological benefits of the MX4, Mr. Brown said.
He added that Michelin has no plans to extend the campaign to its consumer-oriented advertising or to any other lines.
``We will be monitoring the (comparison) ad to determine whether it is doing any good for us,'' he said.