AKRON (Sept. 7, 2001)—Goodyear is looking to break out from the “clutter” of look-alike tire advertising with a new ad campaign that focuses on how the company and its tires touch people's everyday lives.
The new approach, which features the theme “On the Wings of Goodyear,” replaces the product-oriented “Serious Freedom” campaign the tire maker began in the mid-1990s and used through 2000. That program had been developed by Goodyear's former ad agency, J. Walter Thompson, in Detroit, which severed ties with the tire maker earlier this year after a 15-year relationship.
Goodyear's new ad agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, developed the “Wings” campaign and creative direction, which focuses on the everyday journeys of people's lives and uses a broad spectrum of emotion, the tire maker said.
“It's a dramatic departure from the type of product- and technology-focused advertising that Goodyear has used in the past, and quite frankly, a departure for the tire industry itself,” said John Polhemus, president of Goodyear's North American operations, who headed the agency selection process that chose Goodby in April.
The tire maker broke the new campaign Labor Day weekend, airing three different television commercials, each featuring what Goodyear described as a different “life journey.” Aimed at a much broader audience than the traditional male sports-oriented tire customer, the TV spots appeared on prime time, sports and cable programming, including the U.S. Open tennis tournament, college during football, “60 Minutes,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “48 Hours.”
The company also began running six different print ads in a broad range of weekly and monthly consumer magazines, including People, Time, Newsweek, Better Homes and Gardens, Sports Illustrated, Vanity Fair and others.
In the past, Goodyear's television advertising centered on major sporting events. With the new campaign, viewers will see Goodyear more frequently on TV and more consistently in print, a company spokesman said.
“We want to really establish the Wingfoot as an icon, a permanent image, so that one day, whenever you see the Wingfoot you know that it relates to Goodyear,” Jim Vogel, vice president of sales and marketing, North American Tire, said of the company's winged foot logo.
The campaign's objectives include improving consumer awareness of the company and enhancing consumers' intent and preference to buy Goodyear-made tires. But, just as importantly, Mr. Vogel said, the company hopes it ultimately will result in “consumers' willingness to pay more for our products.”
Goodyear said it looked to consumers using qualitative and quantitative testing to help establish the future direction of its advertising effort. “Consumer input was critical in our decisions every step of the way,” said Cathryn Fischer, the tire maker's chief global marketing officer. “While consumers believe tires are very important, they don't think tire companies do a very good job of differentiating their products. They look at tire advertising simply as a lot of tires.
“What we took from that was, it really was not about the tires. It was more about the role that tires, specifically Goodyear tires, play in people's lives.”
That led to the focus on journeys.
Goodyear said the first wave of TV ads centers on three common themes—car pooling, the morning commute and family vacations—evoking emotions ranging from serious to humorous.
In the car pooling spot, for example, a voiceover says: “She's not your daughter, but if you give her a ride home, she might as well be.” The commercial highlighting a family vacation depicts four different families in four languages responding to that age-old question children ask, “Are we there yet?”
The “On the Wings” tagline ties the TV and print campaigns together, Goodyear said, noting that consumers who were asked about the theme responded with comments like “reliable, protection, safe and even the driver's guardian angel.”
Mr. Polhemus said Goodyear shared the new campaign and direction with more than 20,000 company employees and retailers throughout North America over the past 10 days and received an “incredible response.”
“We wanted our people to understand and feel good about the direction we were heading, to come on board for a much broader journey of change that we as a company are undertaking,” he said, “and I believe they are ready.”
Tire dealer A.J. Faught, vice president of Northwest Tire & Service in Flint, Mich., previewed the campaign Aug. 23 at Goodyear's headquarters in Akron and liked what he saw.
It appeals to a broader segment of the market, he said, adding that he never believed Goodyear's previous advertising approach, Serious Freedom, “was worth a darn. We did not see customers connect to that,” he said.
The “touchy-feely kinds of ads (of the new campaign) resonate with tire users about what they get from a tire,” he added. “So many tire ads look so technical, which doesn't appeal to anyone other than the enthusiast.”
Safety is a big issue right now with consumers, who don't want to have to worry about their tires, Mr. Faught said. “This campaign goes straight to the point about safety.”
Goodyear is spending an estimated $60 million on the campaign, according to published reports, or 40 percent more than last year's communications budget, Mr. Vogel said. This sum excites Mr. Faught, but only if it's a start. “We hope it's not just a one-year commitment but an on-going commitment, because we need it,” he said.
Added fellow dealer, David Dobbs, president of Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers in St. Louis: “The more advertising Goodyear does, the more I like it.”