In its last year of a three-year marketing deal with the Super Bowl, Bridgestone Americas will launch its 2010 brand campaign in the big game this Sunday. The effort includes two new spots and title sponsorship of the half-time show featuring The Who.
In the last three years, the division of Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire (BFNT) has run ads in the game that were humorous flights of fancy. One of last year's ads, for instance, put Bridgestone tires on an interplanetary rover crawling the surface of Titan, one of Saturn's moons.
This year, the company continues the trend: the new ads, one of which will run at the end of the first quarter of the game and the other during the third quarter, offer an outrageous take on road trips. In one, three young men are heading toward the coast. The fourth passenger in the car is a killer whale. The other is a science-fiction look at a wet future, wherein you have to have good tires, and there are bandits who try to steal them. Teasers are running this week. A third spot will break later, per Michael Fluck, BFNT's advertising and Internet manager.
He says the company has received a huge boost from its relationship with the NFL, of which it is the Official Tire. "We don't measure sales directly against these but from a marketing standpoint, we are looking at awareness and purchase intent," he says. "Since we switched [advertising] to The Richards Group, in the last three years we have all the numbers move in the right direction." Fluck says that while the overall tire business in the U.S. was down double-digits last year, Bridgestone saw a double-digit increase in market share.
Fluck says advertising on the Super Bowl and other big events isn't about Bridgestone and sibling Firestone's individual products or sub-brands -- Bridgestone's Blizzak, Fuzion or Potenza tire lines, for example. "It's more about making consumers aware of the Bridgestone brand," he says. "We really are spending to build the brand and that allows you to introduce or change products and product names."
After the Super Bowl, the ads will run in rotation along with ads that broke last year. Fluck says the company is gearing up for a busy promotional season with a strong focus on the Firestone brand around events like the Indy 500 and Major League Baseball. Firestone recently signed as Official Tire of the MLB.
Bridgestone, meanwhile, is official tire of the National Hockey League, title sponsor of the NHL Winter Classic, and sponsor of the PGA Tour, among other golf and racing programs. Fluck says Firestone will get more focus this year.
"We have so many things going on with Bridgestone already, and we are introducing several Firestone products this year," he says, adding that Firestone's relationship with MLB is a better fit for the league than Bridgestone, which inhabits a more premium end of the market. "The demographics of baseball, the position of Firestone in the value segment of the market, the fact that MLB has the cheapest average ticket prices of sports -- means Firestone fits better with the fan base, America's tire with America's favorite pastime."
As official sponsor of MLB, Firestone will have a presence in stadiums, and during game broadcasts. "We are going to be filming new Firestone ads in about three weeks," he says.