Goodyear Suit Does Not Affect Tire Review

By Tanya Gazdik

DETROIT–Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. filed suit last week against rival Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.

The suit alleges that advertising for Bridgestone’s FT70c tire makes unfair comparisons with Goodyear’s Aquatred II wet traction tires.

The advertising in question was created by Bridgestone/Firestone agency TBWA Chiat/Day, New York, which is defending the $10 million account in a review recently begun by the Nashville, Tenn.-based company. Trevor Hoskins, Bridgestone/Firestone senior vice president of public affairs, said, however, the agency review preceded the lawsuit by several weeks.

‘We are currently conducting a search for an advertising agency, but it has absolutely nothing to do with this lawsuit,’ Hoskins said. ‘We are still in the very early stages. I’m not in a position to comment on it. I know our people are talking with various agencies, but certainly we’re not at a point to be anywhere near a decision at this time.’

Sources say agencies being considered include D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Troy, Mich.; Foote, Cone & Belding and Cramer-Krasselt, both in Chicago; and Lowe & Partners/SMS and Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, both in New York.

Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear, whose advertising is handled by J. Walter Thompson here, is asking the U.S. District Court to stop Bridgestone/Firestone from continuing the campaign, which was launched in April.

The suit also asks for Bridgestone/Firestone to air ‘corrective advertising’ and pay damages to be determined by the court. A hearing date has been set for July 15 in U.S. District Court in Ohio.

Bridgestone/Firestone has no plans to stop or modify the campaign. ‘We are very surprised to receive this lawsuit,’ Hoskins said. ‘A company of our size and reputation does not make claims unless we’re absolutely certain of our ground. And these were confirmed by independent testing.’

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