Three little words. Simple question: ``Need New Tires?''
Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) is hoping to parlay that tagline into a buying boom. The just-launched month-long fall marketing promotion for dealers-under the ``Need New Tires, One Hundred Dollar Tire Sale'' banner-runs through Oct. 15. It offers four Firestone FR380 radials, size P155/80R13, for $100 or tiered mail-in rebates of up to $100 with the purchase of select Bridgestone Dueler light-truck tires.
In an interview with Tire Business from Tokyo, Phil Pacsi, executive director, North American consumer tire brand marketing for BFS, said the new push rides on the coattails of a similar promotion the Nashville-based tire maker used last spring for its dealers. The latest is meant, in part, to capitalize on the traditional fall light-truck tire selling season, he said.
Included in the fall promo are the company's most popular Dueler radial tires: the Bridgestone Dueler H/P; Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza; Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revo; Bridgestone Dueler A/T; Bridgestone Dueler M/T; and the new Bridgestone Dueler H/T.
The four-for-$100 ``is a pretty interesting and effective way to get the message across that if you're in the market for tires, we have something you may want to take notice of,'' Mr. Pacsi said.
BFS independent ``family channel'' dealers, as well as its company-owned Firestone outlets, have received sales kits that include a re-issue of BFS's ``Dueler Ruler.'' It's a popular ``slide rule'' merchandising aid to assist retailers in gauging proper light truck and sport-utility vehicle tire fitments and recommending the proper Dueler tire to match a customer's driving style and needs.
Asked if the promotion created competition between Firestone company stores and independent BFS dealers, Mr. Pacsi said that wouldn't happen. ``That's one of the beauties we've had with the family channel, especially with promos like this. We've been very successful tying company stores and dealers together and giving them the opportunity to join together as a Bridgestone and Firestone family of retailers to spread the wealth of the names and take advantage of the promotions.
``They're not on top of each other in the markets and have different customer bases they've developed.''
Other tools in the kit include a CD with a selection of television and retail radio spots promoting the sale and brochures outlining the program.
The spots rely on humor to get the selling point across. In one, it's a sunny day as a woman parks her SUV on a hill, gets out and locks it. Then the vehicle starts sliding down the hill. An alarm blares, then there's the sound of a crash, followed by the ``Need New Tires?'' tagline.
Mr. Pacsi said the company's month-long advertising blitz targets 40 key markets nationwide, with TV ads focused on cable channels, rather than network television.
While the fall tire sale will be BFS's last big promotion of the year, he told Tire Business the company already has begun shipping winter tires to its dealers and will follow-up with specific ads for its Blizzak snow tires.
Last spring's tire sale promotion-which covered a broader line of tires-used the same four-for-$100 hook and produced ``very, very good results'' for dealers and the tire maker, Mr. Pacsi said. Although he wouldn't give specific sales figures, he did say the ``numbers on all the sales lines spiked'' considerably. Many dealers reported they were ``selling up'' to consumers who came into dealerships for the sales tires, then opted for a more expensive product.
``One of the interesting things we found is that...if (customers) came in looking for one particular line of tires, dealers either used the tiered rebate to sell somebody up into the Bridgestone brand or to sell up to the next levels of Firestone products.''
He acknowledged one of the ``motivating factors'' behind the fall promotion is using the Firestone brand as an enticement to sell up to Bridgestone.
However, the question remains: How many customers actually buy 13-inch tires?
``Not many,'' Mr. Pacsi admitted.