P-p-predictions You want serious prognostications? Hey, we got them galore-just look elsewhere in this issue of TB if you like a dose of reality with your forecast tea.
But if yer lookin' for some high-fallutin' crystal ball gazing, Marketplace style, you've come to the right place. We've blown off the dust from our handy dandy $3.99 crystal goblet (about the same cost as some 13-inch tires in a few markets).
Remember, any old analyst can look at charts, massage the numbers and come up with a pretty good picture of what the industry should and likely will look like in this brand-spanking-new year. Yet how many of them really try to predict what might happen on the fringes? Here in this space, we do fringes (and occasionally even some peripheral stuff).
Alas, when the blush of 2006 crawls across your doorstep, who'll even have remembered that most of this stuff came true? Oh well...fame is fleeting-and so are most of the following random predictions:
Goodyear-Buoyed by a successful tire launch in 2004, the Akron-based tire maker rolls out a re-worked tire line, dubbed Re-Assurance, featuring Quadruple Tred technology that reveals the words, ``No. 1 in blimps'' when the top tread layer wears away. The company's PR staff volunteers to make a pilgrimage en masse to a long-dormant volcano in Hawaii for what they claim is a mission to find special silica-laden volcanic ash for the gang in the rubber-mixing unit. That is, until someone forgets to book them round-trip airfares.
Specialty Equipment Market Association-In an effort to be sensitive to the varied tastes of SEMA Show-goers, the trade group covers up booth models-cars and trucks-with huge tarps. Local Las Vegas tarpaulin makers grouse that they've run out of material and, anyways...people come to the show to see Hummers au naturel.
Michelin North America Inc.-Yet again the tire maker's Bibendum mascot watches his weight soar, as does his blood pressure and cholesterol readings. Having to dine on all that rich French food doesn't help, the corpulent fellow is overheard grousing as he waddles over to an eliptical machine in the firm's Greenville, S.C., gym/tire design center. Las Vegas tarp makers are asked to design a new wardrobe line for the big guy dubbed ``Pleasantly Plumped.''
Pirelli Tire North America Inc.-Hip-hop takes on new meaning for the Rome, Ga., tire maker when it launches a new ``Hopscotch'' tire line in conjunction with its ``urban marketing'' campaign. The company also ties advertising to the debut of the movie ``Barbershop 3'' and release of its theme song, a rap ditty from P Diddy titled, ``Hippity-Hop to the Barbershop.''
Ford Motor Co.-For the company's Escape sport-utility vehicle, the auto maker's chairman, Bill Ford, personally designs a new device he christens the ``Escape Hatch'' for use in the remote possibility the car's electric door locks malfunction. If you've seen James Bond's Aston Martin in ``Goldfinger,'' you know what we're talking about.
Rubber Manufacturers Association-As a way-offshoot to its ongoing tire safety crusade, the RMA teams up with the National Association of Retired Firefighters and the Rolling Stones to launch a ``Be Fire Smart'' campaign. It sends out packets nationwide to grade school kids urging them, in case of fire, to ``stop, drop, rock `n roll.''
Tire Industry Association-After momentum for an industry ``checkoff'' program fails to gather steam in 2004, TIA launches a ``checkout'' program that would allow tire dealers who are tired of working to check out of their business for three weeks and escape to an undisclosed Caribbean island. The association pulls the plug on it after TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield realizes he will have to fill in at each dealership while the boss is away.
Pep Boys-Manny, Moe & Jack-With the sale of flag brands not quite catching fire, the Philly tire retailer links up with a Hollywood producer for an animated live-action feature flick, ``The Pep Boys Meet the Three Stooges,'' with Tom Hanks playing Manny and Moe Howard as himself.
Yokohama Tire Corp.-Heeding the advice of an industry consultant that ``warm and fuzzy still sells,'' the tire maker kicks off an ad/marketing campaign stressing tire buying advice ``straight from your Yokohama Mama.'' Out-of-work actresses from LaLa Land line up outside the company's Fullerton, Calif., headquarters to vie for the title role.
Bridgestone/Firestone-Former chairman John Lampe seriously considers coming out of retirement to try out for the ``Blizzak Winter Olympic Ski Team'' sponsored by the Nashville, Tenn.-based tire maker. After less than a minute of consideration, he decides he wants no part of anything that involves going downhill.
General Motors Corp.-Riding high after the introduction of its own line of custom wheels, the Motown auto maker decides to push the limits of fitment (and taste) even higher by debuting a 48-inch wheel for the Hummer. It quickly retracts the effort after learning no car dealership can service them and no tire dealership wants to. In protest, Hummer owners send lugnuts to the company's headquarters, which begins sinking under the weight.
Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc.-Founder Les Schwab snags the starring role in a new Hollywood western about Gene Autry based on the fact he looks good in a cowboy hat-and Kevin Bacon doesn't.
Tire Business-We continue to deliver a must-read publication filled with up-to-date industry news, articles and features independent dealers' needs (despite occasional meanderings into silliness via Marketplace.)
Faster than a speeding...
Talk about eerie, did you catch Ford Motor Co.'s TV commercials for its retro-styled 2005 Mustang?
Through technological wizardry, one ad features macho man Steve McQueen and pays homage to the baseball movie ``Field of Dreams'' and Mr. McQueen's performance-driving prowess in ``Bullitt.'' In the TV spot, a farmer carves a racetrack into his cornfield. When he pulls a new Mustang out of the barn, Mr. McQueen, created from a body double and digital editing, walks out from the cornstalks, takes the keys and blazes off.
(Reminds us it's probably time to pop ``Bullitt'' into the ol' VCR, curl up with a bowl of popcorn and watch Steve scream through the streets of San Francisco again. Watch out, Karl Malden.)
A real way with woids
A ``Goldwynism'' is technically known as an eponym. That is, the derivation of a word based on the name of a person, place or thing.
The word is taken from the name of renowned hard-bargaining Hollywood director Samuel Goldwyn and is defined as a humorous statement or phrase resulting from the use of incongruous or contradictory words, situations, idioms, etc. That's according to the simply wonderful daily e-mail service called Wordsmith. (You can subscribe at http://wordsmith.org. It will help build your vocabulary by e-mailing you a word a day.)
Here are some shining examples of Goldwynisms right from Sam's mouth:
* ``Include me out.''
* ``When I want your opinion I will give it to you.''
* ``I'll give you a definite maybe.''
* ``If I could drop dead right now, I would be the happiest man alive.''
* ``Anybody who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined.''
* ``I may not always be right, but I am never wrong.''
* ``In two words: im-possible.''
Citing The Times of London, Wordsmith added that actor Gregory Peck once came up with a great Goldwynism: ``If they won't go to the box-office, you can't stop 'em.''
And if they'd have gotten Sam together with Yogi Berra, there'd have been no figuring them out.