WASHINGTON-The Tire Industry Association and the Rubber Manufacturers Association are ``still talking'' about a possible collaboration to fund an industry-wide public relations program to inform the public about the safety, quality and value of today's tires, according to TIA Executive Vice President Roy E. Littlefield III.
Mr. Littlefield made a presentation to the RMA executive board June 13 about the program, which was first discussed last November at the Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo in Las Vegas. If approved, the PR campaign would be funded by a ``check off'' of a tiny percentage of the proceeds of each new tire sold in the U.S.
Congress has approved about 60 such industry-wide programs since passing legislation allowing them in 2000. Milk, pork, plastics and home heating oil are among the industries funding PR programs through the check off law.
Bib bobbleheads auctioned on e-Bay
GREENVILLE, S.C.-To benefit the Special Olympics program for mentally challenged athletes, a private collection of celebrity bobblehead dolls including the ``Michelin Man'' was auctioned on the Web site www.eBay.com.
The bobblehead set consisted of mint-condition dolls that included football coach Lou Holtz (autographed); baseball player Mickey Mantle; NASCAR driver Richard Petty; basketball players Grant Hill (autographed) and Shaquille O'Neil (limited edition); scientist Albert Einstein; Uncle Sam; film icons Rocky Balboa and Darth Vader; cartoon characters Dicky Tracy, Yogi Bear, Betty Boop and Mr. Magoo; the Kellogg Co.'s cereal mascot Tony the Tiger; and Michelin's Bibendum mascot.
Libby Andrews, director of corporate development for Special Olympics North America, said the ``online auction is valuable for both the collectors and Special Olympics.'' The highest bidder received ``an eclectic assortment of bobbleheads to add to their collection,'' while demonstrating support for athletes with disabilities.
Greenville-based Michelin North America Inc. has been selling its ``Michelin Man'' bobblehead dolls to consumers for $22, including shipping charges, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Special Olympics as part of a $250,000 donation the tire maker said it plans to give to the Special Olympics this year.
As part of a promotion, consumers who buy Michelin tires from June 1 to July 31 will receive a free Michelin Man (also known as Bib) bobblehead. They also can purchase the dolls from Michelin's Web site.
``Michelin and its dealers are supporting our alliance with Special Olympics through the sale of Michelin tires,'' said Sheryl Henderson, director of Michelin brand.
The Special Olympics is an international program of sports training and competition for individuals with mental retardation. More than 1 million athletes from 150 countries train and compete in the 26 Olympic-type summer and winter sports.
Kumho steps up racing presence
FONTANA, Calif.-Kumho Tire USA recently unveiled the next step in its focus on racing.
The Fontana-based tire maker has assembled a motorsports support tractor-trailer and a fleet of three Mini Coopers, made by BMW A.G. and equipped with Kumho tires. The truck-which can carry all three vehicles-will provide trackside support at select Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) national events and at Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) events.
Company officials said the truck already is booked this year, with its first dealer event a July ride-and-drive scheduled in Seattle. The truck also will be on hand for November's Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo in Las Vegas.
The Minis will be used for ride-and-drive events for tire dealers, consumers and the media. Both the Minis and the tractor-trailer were introduced June 26 during an event at the company's technical center in Fairlawn, Ohio.
``We've been involved with SCCA racing since 1993, and we're now in our third year of CORR racing,'' said Rick Brennan, high-performance brand manager for Kumho. ``We've won several national championships with SCCA, and this year we've scored our first wins in CORR's Pro divisions. Our success on the track has caused our stable of SCCA and CORR racers to grow.
``This new truck and trailer will enable us to better serve our racers and will also serve notice that Kumho is committed to these series and to motorsports in general.''
The truck features a Kenworth T2000 tractor and a 53-foot trailer custom-built by High Tech Performance Trailers in Painesville, Ohio.
The trailer includes tire mounting and balancing equipment, a meeting area and lounge with a flat-screen television and digital satellite system, a rooftop observation deck, retractable awning and a 5,000-pound capacity liftgate.
Kumho's former presence at racing events had been a large white pickup truck pulling a trailer.
Kumho decided to add the popular Minis to the mix because of their handling capabilities and attention-grabbing features.
``We want more people to experience the performance of Kumho tires, and we believe that ride-and-drive events are the best way to do that,'' Mr. Brennan said. ``We believe our dealers will enjoy the ride and drive experience and having a visit from our motorsport truck and the Minis.''
BFS hosting tire demos for dealers
NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Bridgestone/Firestone is giving dealers an opportunity to see the tire maker's newest tire technologies so they can relay the information to consumers.
The Nashville-based tire maker will demonstrate how different tires can affect a vehicle's handling July 16-17 at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., near Detroit. Two sessions will be held each day, from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m.
BFS said professional driving instructors will run the demonstrations, which include:
* Pitting the Bridgestone Turanza LS-H with UNI-T AQII technology against a competing touring tire on a wet road course. Both will be driven on BMW 325i vehicles with the tires 50-percent worn. A full-tread depth Turanza LS-H also will be compared with the two 50-percent worn tires.
* Comparing the Firestone Affinity LH30 with UNI-T technology with a competing tire on a wet road course. The Firestone tire, fitted on a Chevrolet Camaro, was the industry's first H-speed rated premium mass-market tire, BFS said.
* The performance of the Bridgestone Potenza RE750 with UNI-T technology. The ultra-high performance tire will be showcased on a BMW 325i on an open road course.
Conti plans promo for General dealers
CHARLOTTE, N.C.-With a tour covering more than 45 major and minor league baseball parks-plus all-you-can-eat burgers and hot dogs-Continental Tire North America Inc. hopes to energize its General dealers.
The summer tour is part of the General brand's promotion for both dealers and consumers. At the baseball games, dealers and their families will be treated to tickets and food, as well as a chance to check out General's new Grabber AT off-road tire. One randomly selected person at each event will win a free set of the tires.
``The full support of our dealer base is key to the resurgence of the General brand,'' said Jim Mayfield, brand manager for General.
``This tour gives us the opportunity to create a closer relationship with each dealer by providing them and their families the opportunity to relax and enjoy a ballgame. The tour also demonstrates our dedication to the General brand and its continued success.''
The Charlotte-based tire maker also will reach out to consumers while on the tour by setting up a ``fanzone,'' which it described as ``a unique interactive fan experience.'' In addition to a Grabber AT display, children can play in the inflatable General Tire jump castle, and adults can throw fast balls at the General Tire speed check.
``Few things are as Americana as General Tire,'' Mr. Mayfield said. ``That's why an interactive tour of our national pastime presented the perfect opportunity to promote the brand to consumers.''
The company said it also plans to make a contribution at each tour stop to the local chapters of the Make-A-Wish Foundation in cooperation with Baseball USA. Children in the charity program will be asked to throw the first pitch for the ball games.
For a schedule of the tour, visit www.generaltire.com.
Soccer star back doing Uniroyal PR
GREENVILLE, S.C.-Michelin North America Inc.'s Uniroyal brand has re-signed U.S. soccer star Julie Foudy as national spokeswoman for the tire maker's youth soccer programs.
Ms. Foudy, who has been involved with the Uniroyal brand for the past four years, renewed her contract for another year, a spokesman said. Ms. Foudy is captain of both the U.S. Women's National team and the San Diego Spirit of the Women's United Soccer Association professional league.
As spokeswoman, Ms. Foudy will help generate public awareness and support of TOPSoccer, U.S. Youth Soccer's national outreach program that helps children with disabilities play soccer. The tire maker said Ms. Foudy has helped Uniroyal generate 150 million consumer impressions for the TOPSoccer program. Uniroyal is a title sponsor of the program.
``Julie is a role model for so many kids, not to mention an outstanding professional athlete,'' said Tim Jamison, Uniroyal brand director. ``We are extremely proud to have Julie representing Uniroyal and look forward to continuing to foster growth in youth soccer.''
Michelin rolls out roadside help
GREENVILLE, S.C.-Michelin North America Inc. is offering a 24-hour ``Adventure Assurance'' roadside assistance program for up to 24 months for consumers who buy BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/AKO or Mud-Terrain T/AKM tires.
The service is available anywhere in the U.S. and Canada. To receive assistance, consumers call a toll-free number provided with the original purchase, and a local service provider will be dispatched.
``With this unique program, help will be there when you need it the most,'' said Scott Dishman, marketing manager for BFGoodrich light truck tires.
A flat tire will be replaced with an inflated spare, and the assistance program also includes off-road towing for customers who get stranded in difficult terrain, such as mud, snow, sand and ice.
The service applies only to the vehicle for which the tires were bought. There is no out-of-pocket expense for the covered service up to the maximum benefit. Services are limited to a maximum of $60 per incident and three incidents per year per customer.
The service also excludes recreational vehicles, fleet vehicles, any vehicle in tow, trucks over one ton capacity, commercial vehicles, vandalism, theft, accident-related incidents, services not dispatched through the toll-free number and services to a disabled car already at a repair shop.
Service may not be available in all areas, Michelin said.
Customers who buy BFGoodrich Commercial T/A All-Season, Commercial T/A Traction, Control T/A M65, Control T/A M80 or Winter Slalom tires also can take advantage of BFGoodrich's Roadside Assistance program. This program also provides 24-hour assistance for up to 24 months from the date of original purchase.