Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s archrival is going for the jugular, three months after the onset of the company's massive tire recall. The only surprise: What took Goodyear so long?
In tandem with full-page national ads—"Peace of mind has a name"—Goodyear Chairman Sam Gibara publicly bragged his company is gaining replacement market share at the Firestone brand's expense. "Consumers don't want vehicles with Firestone tires," Gibara said in an Oct. 24 discussion with analysts. He touted the fact that half the Ford Explorer owners who have replaced their recalled tires at Ford dealerships turned to Goodyears.
Gibara calls it a "flight to quality."
"Firestone now has a bad name recognition, and Bridgestone has no name recognition in the North American replacement market," he said.
Bridgestone/Firestone's rivals had been fairly silent about the recall, with good reason. It wouldn't take much for trial lawyers and consumer advocates to target other brands as "bad tires," especially with the overwhelming media attention the recall is getting.
But Gibara kicking Bridgestone/Firestone while it's down isn't unexpected: Throat cutting, as practiced primarily through tire pricing, is an art form in the tire industry. And Goodyear owed Bridgestone/Firestone for the nasty remarks it made over Goodyear's slippage in auto racing.
Goodyear itself needs a boost. The way Wall Street disrespects the company, if they found a pot of gold under a blimp hanger, Goodyear's stock price would fall because analysts would say the firm had too much cash on hand.
The best hope for the Firestone brand is that people collectively have short memories, at least in this country. But if consumers do someday forget about the recall, Goodyear apparently will be there to remind them of it.