Goodyear Shares Plans to ‘Get There’ at Dealer Meeting
(Akron/Tire Review) Last year was “turbulent, dramatic,” said Robert Keegan, Goodyear chairman and CEO, in front of more than 2,000 attendees at the tyremaker’s annual dealer meeting, held Feb. 3-5 in Orlando, Fla. “About the only thing that didn’t hit you and I in 2006 was plague and pestilence.” Reflecting on one of the longest work stoppages in Goodyear history, Keegan said the company’s relationship with dealers was put to the test late last year.
“We needed your support more than at any time in many decades,” Keegan told dealers. He thanked dealers and even credited them with the strike’s successful resolution. “You supported us in a way that, frankly, drove for us a better agreement with the union that we could not have had without that support,” he said.
“We’ve come through a tipping point,” said Keegan. “Today, we are prepared with a much more competitive cost structure than we have had. And, we were fair to our associates.”
Jon Rich, president of Goodyear’s North American Tire division, noted that by the third week in January, daily production at the company’s union plants had returned to pre-strike levels.
“I know that many of you were short of tyres and made sacrifices to help us,” Rich said. “We won’t forget that.”
Despite the strike, the Goodyear and Dunlop brands gained marketshare in 2006, and the company’s share price increased 20%, according to Rich. “Since the 2003 Goodyear dealer conference, more than $3 billion in shareholder value has been created for our stockholders,” Rich said.
Looking ahead to 2007 and beyond, Rich projected: “We believe demand in the consumer tyre business will start to bounce back, and we plan to be positioned to make the most of the opportunity. Overall, I think there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about our industry in 2007,” said Rich. “But, when it comes to Goodyear specifically, we are very excited about the coming year.”
That excitement was evident when Larry Mason, president of consumer tyres, and Joey Viselli, director of the Goodyear brand, unveiled an all-new advertising and marketing campaign entitled “Get There.” Goodyear’s new “Get There” campaign seeks to communicate the very “essence” of the Goodyear brand – getting people where they need to go.
The campaign includes a series of TV commercials, previewed for the first time at the dealer meeting, that features two blimp pilots flying the iconic Goodyear blimp and reflecting on Goodyear’s history of getting people to their destinations. Goodyear will also use TV ads to promote specific tyre lines, such as the Assurance TripleTred.
The ads made their national TV debut to some 20 million viewers on Feb. 18 during the Daytona 500. The public will also see the ads during the NCAA tournament.
Goodyear will also run print versions of “Get There” ads in magazines reaching female, sports, automotive and technology audiences.
“This is an idea as big as the blimp itself,” said Mason. “More than a one- or two-year campaign, this is an idea we believe we can get behind for years to come.”
Goodyear also introduced new tyres at its dealer meeting: an ultra-high performance Eagle F1 all-season tyre, an expanded Wrangler SR-A line as well as new Ultra Grip Performance and Ultra Grip SUV winter tyres.
The Eagle F1 all-season features carbon-fiber-reinforced inner and outer sidewalls and ultra-high performance and all-season tread zones. It incorporates “TredLock technology” for grip in all weather conditions, Goodyear said. The Eagle F1 all-season will be available to consumers in July in 22 initial sizes, with 16 more to follow.
The Wrangler SR-A tyre will get an additional 25 sizes this fall and a 50,000-mile limited treadlife warranty on P-metric sizes, Goodyear announced. The tyre has been enhanced with the tyremaker’s “WetTrac technology,” which uses “zig-zag microgrooves” for traction on wet roads, according to Goodyear.
Finally, Goodyear introduced two new winter tyres – the Ultra Grip Performance and the Ultra Grip SUV, both of which will be available before the 2007-2008 winter season.
Wrapping up, Keegan said Goodyear officials “remain confidently paranoid” about the future. “I am very proud – I didn’t say satisfied – of the progress we have made the last four years,” Keegan said.
“We want to be a company that ‘gets there,’” he concluded, “with our consumers, dealers, investors and our own internal goals. The market in 2007 is providing us with significant opportunities. Are we going to take advantage of them? You bet we are.”