NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Spurred by a traveling road show and a climate of increased state opposition to metal-studded snow tires, sales of Bridgestone Blizzak studless snow tires are booming, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. said. Recently, BFS driving crews have skidded across ice rinks in major metropolitan markets, showing off the Blizzak's performance before dealers and media.
The promotion rolled into Denver Oct. 4. By the end of the next day, BFS had sold more than 1,500 Blizzaks in that city, according to Mike Van Sicklen, BFS consumer marketing specialist.
``It makes people start thinking about (snow tires).'' Mr. Van Sicklen said of the promotion. ``It drives people into the stores. Everybody has had a bad experience in the snow, and they just don't want to have it again.''
The Blizzak is a studless snow tire with a multicell compound the company said continually exposes new ``microdents'' to remove the thin layer of surface water that can cause a car to slide on ice.
To show the tire's effectiveness, BFS drivers are maneuvering through starting, braking and slalom courses on ice rinks in major snow markets during presentations open to dealers and the press, a spokesman said.
Local media-like The Denver Post, which covered the Oct. 4 demonstration-have helped drive consumer Blizzak sales, Mr. Van Sicklen said.
The Blizzak promotion and the company's recent introduction of the lower-priced WT14 snow tire help show the direction the company intends to take in the future, the spokesman said.
``There is no doubt that Bridgestone has taken a leadership role in the snow tire market,'' the spokesman said, stating the promotions increase consumer awareness of studless snow tires at a time when state and local governments are frowning upon the damage studs allegedly cause to roads.
According to the Tire Industry Safety Council, as of Sept. 13, 33 states and the District of Columbia set seasonal restrictions on the use of metal-studded tires, while Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland (except in five mountainous counties), Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas and Wisconsin prohibit such tires.
Colorado, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Vermont and Wyoming allow unrestricted use of metal-studded snow tires.
To reduce road damage, more state and local governments are restricting the use of studded snow tires, said Mike Cerio, Bridgestone consumer products marketing manager, but consumers still want the grip studs provide.
``The Blizzak...delivers ice and snow traction very comparable to that of a studded tire,'' he said.