Goodyear vs. Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. The Aquatred II vs. the FT70c. Advertising dollars vs. advertising dollars. Champion vs. contender. That's the setting for Goodyear's lawsuit against Bridgestone/Firestone over claims the Firestone FT70c is better than the Aquatred II in stopping. It's a high-stakes gamble by both companies, with an unknown fate for the loser.
Bridgestone/Firestone initiated the fight with its ads saying tests the company sponsored showed its tire stops shorter on a wet track than the Aquatred II.
Interesting ads, to say the least. The test was done by an independent laboratory (but paid for by Bridgestone/Firestone); and the anti-lock brakes on the Ford Crown Victoria were disengaged—not exactly normal procedure for driving a car.
That's one of the flaws in comparison tire advertisements. The company paying for the test can set the parameters any way it wants. You can expect the test criteria used will be that which yields the most favorable results for its tire. Why else run and publicize a test?
Goodyear is spitting mad over the ads, and it should be. The company used the Aquatred as the springboard for its recovery and is quick to defend the tire against all comers. Continental General Tire Inc. and Silverstone Tire & Rubber Co. Sdn. Bhd. found that out when they tangled with Goodyear over tire designs.
Goodyear has no choice but to react to comparison ads.
But what can Goodyear gain by taking on Bridgestone/Firestone? The Japanese-owned company has succeeded in getting its FT70c tire mentioned in the same sentence as the Aquatred II—in a sense, the comparison ads already have done their job.
If Bridgestone/Firestone is found to be guilty of false advertising, then it might suffer from customer backlash as well as financial damages.
However, if the company beats Goodyear, it could tarnish the Aquatred's image severely since consumers view it as the benchmark for all-weather tires.
If the tire makers really want to see which tire is best, then they should pool the cost of an independent lab and run a showdown match between each other: Same cars, same test criteria, the Aquatred II vs. the FT70c.
We dare them.