EDITORIAL: Tired of bad PR, Firestone ready to roll

It's six months since Firestone burst into the public consciousness, garnering headlines across the world for its part in the rollovers of Ford Explorer SUVs.

It's six months since Firestone burst into the public consciousness, garnering headlines across the world for its part in the rollovers of Ford Explorer SUVs.

It's six months since Firestone burst into the public consciousness, garnering headlines across the world for its part in the rollovers of Ford Explorer SUVs.

After the initial reaction period, Firestone was criticized by the PR community for allowing Ford to win the communications battle. While Ford was universally credited with a proactive strategy, the Japanese-owned Firestone chose to adopt a far more low-profile approach.

But this week, PRWeek reveals that Firestone, fresh from parent company Bridgestone reporting an 80% fall in last year's profits in the US, is about to unveil a relaunch for the beleaguered tire brand.

The timing is right. Firestone has spent the past few months quietly settling as many lawsuits as it can, eager to put this disastrous period behind it. Data from CARMA shows that the brand's favorability rating has now risen to its highest level since before the crisis.

But if Firestone has any hope of completely resuscitating its brand, it needs to come forth with some explanation of what changes have been made and how the company intends to earn the confidence of consumers.

Our sources indicate that the company is planning do this using the well-worn tactic of celebrity endorsement. This may work, but not in isolation.

If Firestone wants its brand to be associated with anything other than auto accidents, it needs to convince consumers that it has thoroughly investigated the problem, rather than simply attempting to shrug off the blame and move on.



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