Safety sells. Security sells. Therefore, run-flats should sell. That's the thinking Goodyear buys into with its ambitious new effort to make and market run-flat tires. It's a big gamble—the company plans to soon begin converting all its production of aftermarket passenger tires to run-flats. This despite the fact the tires will cost more, require installation of an air-pressure monitor, and the current market for run-flats is virtually non-existent.
And, if that wasn't enough, no auto maker is yet inclined to adopt run-flats as standard original equipment tires on anything but a few high-performance cars.
Sam Gibara, you've got guts.
Goodyear is trying to catch the wave ahead of its competitors. The company's decision makers apparently took a lesson from history and the radial tire: Michelin brought the radial to North America, and the U.S. tire companies spent years trying to catch up. Some never did.
Goodyear also hasn't forgotten the value of aggressive marketing of new products. The lesson of Aquatred is well taken—develop an innovative product and market the hell out of it. It worked once, so why not again?
And market the Extended Mobility Tire Goodyear will. Look for the tire company to tap into the fears of consumers—most consumers—who want the safest, most secure products available. Playing on the public's insecurity is nothing new in advertising (remember "Don't leave home without it?")
It won't be a surprise if Goodyear runs ads showing a ``Soccer Mom'' stranded on a dark, lonely road with a flat tire, kids crying in the car, no help near; a family car getting a flat on a highway in the desert, 100 miles from nowhere and with a spare that doesn't work; a young woman facing a flat tire in a seedy part of town.
If only they'd bought a run-flat, even if it'll cost another $100 for a set, plus $300 for the sensing equipment. And even though today's technology and quality control make flat tires a pretty rare event. Quick: When's the last time you had a flat tire?
But ``all it takes is once.''
Goodyear may be the first tire company to wholly embrace the run-flat, but probably not the last. If the manufacturer achieves any success with its new campaign, look for its competitors to jump aboard the run-flat as quickly as possible.