NASHVILLE: Fleishman-Hillard has resigned its account with troubled tyre maker Firestone.
F-H had been working on the account for only eight weeks, but as the Firestone-brand tyre crisis quickly escalated, Fleishman had 70-100 people on it full-time. The account is believed to have been worth at least pounds 1.6 million a month.
Industry speculation suggested the break-up resulted from a disagreement over communications strategy. It is understood the agency had counselled Firestone to take positive, dramatic steps to address the crisis. Firestone appeared to ignore the advice.
'The agency bailing out at such a crucial time - that's an indication Firestone has some terrific communications problems,' said Jerry Sloan, the head of Ford PR from 1987 to 1990.
Earlier this month, the US government issued a new warning about Firestone tyres. An estimated 1.4 million are believed to have flaws that could cause tread to peel away and lead to blow-outs.
Firestone, owned by Japan-based Bridgestone company, is already reeling from an earlier recall involving 6.5 million tyres, most of them fitted on Ford utility vehicles.
Ironically, Fleishman won the account from Burson-Marsteller, which handles Ford.