NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has taken a big step towards rebuilding consumer confidence in its Firestone brand.
During the weekend of Oct. 14, the Nashville-based tire maker featured 10 of its independent dealers in a national newspaper ad campaign that ran in 35 U.S. markets and in various trade publications, including Tire Business.
Using a theme of "We Believe in Firestone," the ads included photos of those dealers commenting on why they trust and continue to sell the brand.
"A number of dealers came to us indicating they wanted to do something because they stood behind the Firestone brand," a BFS spokesman said.
Some of the ads displayed all 10 dealers supporting Firestone, while others used only a dealer who is well known in a particular market, the spokesman said.
So far, the "We Believe" campaign is a one-time deal, though BFS may decide to continue it and include more independent dealers, the spokesman said. BFS' top priority now is replacing the recalled Firestones, he said.
One "We Believe" campaign participant—Paul Swentzel, pres- ident of Lexington, Ky.-based S|&|S Tire Inc.—said he already had launched his own ad campaign defending the Firestone brand before he agreed to nationwide BFS ads.
"The plain fact is, we just have had no trouble with the Firestone product," he said. "It's been one of the best values in the marketplace. We think it's a crime that (BFS) is taking a hit like this because we just have so many satisfied customers and we've been so happy with the product."
Another ad participant—Larry Morgan of Morgan Tire & Auto Inc., BFS' largest independent retailer—said he has received criticism from customers for his support of BFS but still would recommend the Firestone brand.
"The industry knows this isn't a product problem," he told Tire Business. "Maybe we're all naive, but that's the way we feel."