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Published on April 9, 2001

Firestone begins road to recovery

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The many Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. dealers who've remained loyal to the tire maker throughout its recent troubles should be encouraged by the company's newest effort to restore consumer confidence in the Firestone brand.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based tire maker can't undo what's already happened regarding the recall of 6.5 million Firestone P-metric light truck tires.

But it can begin "Making it Right," as the theme on its new ad campaign states, by putting in place steps to ensure such a catastrophe doesn't happen again.

The firm's recently announced action plan and marketing program appear to do just that.

By establishing a comprehensive quality review team, putting in place early warning safety systems and procedures, changing materials and construction used in Firestone tires, investing $50 million this year in production facilities and expanding tire warranties, BFS has demonstrated its resolve to return the Firestone name and brand to their former glory.

>From the tire dealer's perspective, a major part of the action plan is the "Making it Right" national advertising campaign, the largest in company history.

Using print and television advertising, BFS CEO John Lampe will outline key components of the plan, which is dedicated to restoring consumer confidence in Firestone and continuing the company's tire maintenance educational campaign.

Bridgestone/Firestone also will use database marketing, in-store promotions, car care clinics and Internet advertising to get its message out, and has signed race car drivers Michael and Mario Andretti as spokesmen.

Dealers, who've been on the front lines throughout the recall, will take part in the campaign, distributing the firm's "Inflate, Rotate, Evaluate" tire maintenance brochure and offering free tire guages.

BFS and its dealers face an uphill battle to regain ground lost since the recall began. But these well-targeted initiatives should put the company and its dealers on the road to recovery.

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