Bridgestone also will continue its marketing and advertising investments in its brands in 2017, including sponsorships with the NFL, NHL and the PGA Tour, said Philip Dobbs, BATO's chief marketing officer.
This follows a milestone year in which Bridgestone became a sponsor of the Olympic Games, starting with the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Firestone also was the spec tire brand for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May.
These marketing activities and others delivered 2.2 billion impressions for the Bridgestone brand and more than 2 billion impressions for the Firestone brand, Dobbs said.
In 2017, television will remain an important part of Bridgestone's marketing plans, but the company also will increase the use of digital throughout its efforts, said Amber Holm, vice president of brand marketing, U.S. and Canada, for consumer replacement tire.
But that does not mean simply adding more digital marketing, she said. Instead, “we are shifting our mindset to be marketers in a digital world, where digital programs are core to how we interact with consumers, because it's time to ensure that we match evolving consumer behavior with all of our marketing efforts.”
In 2017, she anticipates the consumer tire unit will reach more than 7 million visitors on its website and more than 1.5 million followers on social media. In addition, the company expects to drive more than 100,000 calls from the Bridgestone website to its dealers' stores through its online dealer locator.
Bridgestone's DriveGuard run-flat tire will continue to be a focus in 2017, Holm said. “DriveGuard continues to add a significant halo to the Bridgestone brand, as people who see DriveGuard advertising are more likely to say that Bridgestone is innovative, is a leading brand and is a premium tire worth paying for,” she said.
For the Firestone brand, the company expects to drive more than 14 million visits to its website, will engage with 1.5 million users on social media and drive more than 300,000 calls from the company's Firestone website to dealers' stores, Holm said.
In addition, the company will continue to build on its Drive with Firestone campaign with more Truck Stuff, a program launched in 2016 to drive growth in the Firestone Destination and Transforce lines.
“Next year we will take Truck Stuff to the next level with new product launches, new television advertising and increased social activation and in-store presence,” Holm said.
To help drive sales of Firestone and Bridgestone tires, the company will offer four store promotions for 24 weeks in 2017 to drive consumers to dealers' outlets.
To help dealers sell more tires, BATO is offering several selling tools. These include:
• Tire Navigator, a proprietary big data tool launched in 2015 that helps predict tire demand in the U.S. down to a micro market level.
• Tire Connect, an online selling solution Bridgestone purchased last year, that allows dealers to get full credit for the tire sale and not just the mandated commission.
• Tire Connect Side by Side Selling Tool, a counter that allows the consumer and the salesperson to stand side by side in the store, look at the screen and go through the purchasing journey together. The Tire Connect Side by Side tool is powered by the same data as the online Tire Connect Tool.