LAS VEGAS (Nov. 3, 2000) — Among its efforts to shore up the Firestone brand, Bridgestone Firestone Inc. will improve warranties on its passenger and light truck tires, offer consumers 30-day trials on tires, and develop new safety-oriented advertising campaigns, according to BFS executives addressing 4,000 dealers at the company´s consumer tire business meeting in Las Vegas.
"We have a mission," BFS Chairman John Lampe said, "and that is to regain our position as the best tire company in America.
"Firestone not only will withstand this setback," Mr. Lampe said, addressing the question of the company´s future in the wake of the Wilderness/ATX recall, "we will come back, and we will be stronger.
"But we can´t do it with your help," Mr. Lampe told the dealers gathered at Caesars Palace. "You have not lost faith in Firestone. You know, more than anyone else, that Firestone stands for quality. It´s not an image; it´s a fact."
Calling on Firestone´s racing heritage, Mr. Lampe told the dealers, "Winning races is easier than winning consumer trust. Trust must grow; it must be nurtured by honesty and accountability. It can´t be earned overnight, but I´d like to think it cannot be lost overnight as well."
Mr. Lampe said BFS will survive and grow because of its strengths: financial, management, dealer network etc.
Among concrete proposals floated at the meeting, BFS executives outlined plans to expand the company´s Gold Pledge warranty program — free tire replacement for failed tires due to manufacturing or materials defects up to three years from date of purchase — to all passenger and light truck tires, and will introduce a 30-day risk-free trial period.
The company also will distribute a consumer safety message starting Dec. 1, calling attention to the completion of the recall — expected by mid-November — and the company´s efforts to correct the situation and regain consumer trust.
Then, starting the first quarter of 2001, BFS will roll out a national image-building television campaign, using a third-party spokesman to highlight the company´s commitment to safety, reliability and trust, said Shu Ishibashi, president of BFS´ U.S. Consumer Tire unit.
The new campaign will evoke memories of a series of safety-oriented public-service-type ads the company ran in the 1970s that featured actor Jimmy Stewart as the Firestone spokesman.
In addition to efforts to shore up the Firestone brand, BFS will invest undisclosed sums in building the Bridgestone brand in North America, along with new programs affecting the company´s associate brands, Mr. Ishibashi said.