Tire firm rallies back with new Fuzion line

NASHVILLE, TN: Three years after its much-publicized problems with Ford, Bridgestone/Firestone North America Tire is signaling its re-emergence in the US market with the launch of a new tire brand, Fuzion, aimed at 18- to 24-year-olds who customize their cars.

NASHVILLE, TN: Three years after its much-publicized problems with Ford, Bridgestone/Firestone North America Tire is signaling its re-emergence in the US market with the launch of a new tire brand, Fuzion, aimed at 18- to 24-year-olds who customize their cars.

The company has already held a PR event for the trade media discussing the new tire. Consumer-oriented PR will featuring the tire during at least nine car-related events this year, starting next month. A Fuzion-equipped Honda Civic will be displayed at the shows.

Key message points for the brand will be affordability and the fact that the brand understands young car enthusiasts, explained Michael Fluck, advertising and internet manager at Bridgestone/Firestone.

PR efforts are targeting the car enthusiast press, added Susan Sizemore, manager of PR.

TheFuzionZone.com, a new website, also has been created, featuring the first online racing game the company has ever done. The strategy of launching a new brand for the youth market is one Toyota also is pursing with its Scion brand.

Fuzion signals that Bridgestone/Firestone has recovered from its Ford/Firestone problems. "As a company, Bridgestone/Firestone is back, in terms of launching a new brand," Fluck said.

While Firestone sales fell 20% in 2001 during the height of the controversy, sales leveled off in 2002 and rose 3% in 2003. Parent company Bridgestone lost $1.7 billion in 2001 but returned to profitability in 2002 and last year.

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