Ketchum moves to put tire giant on right road

NASHVILLE, TN: Ketchum is working on its first high-profile assignment for embattled tire manufacturer, Bridgestone/Firestone, creating a PR program to complement the first consumer advertising push since the company's August 9 US recall of 14.4 million tires.

NASHVILLE, TN: Ketchum is working on its first high-profile assignment for embattled tire manufacturer, Bridgestone/Firestone, creating a PR program to complement the first consumer advertising push since the company's August 9 US recall of 14.4 million tires.

NASHVILLE, TN: Ketchum is working on its first high-profile assignment for embattled tire manufacturer, Bridgestone/Firestone, creating a PR program to complement the first consumer advertising push since the company's August 9 US recall of 14.4 million tires.

The PR, television and print ad campaigns are slated to roll out in late March or early April in the US, featuring an as-yet unnamed celebrity spokesperson, or spokespeople.

According to Julia Sutherland, SVP at Ketchum's DC office, PR tasks are being defined while advertising is being tweaked. She said the PR will include a media preview and rollout of the ads to national and trade press, and an advertising awareness campaign for Firestone's 8,000 dealers and 1,550 retail outlets. Ketchum will also work to earn editorial copy to echo and reinforce advertising messages, which have not yet been finalized.

Ads are being researched and refined by Firestone ad agency of record Grey Worldwide.

Advertising and PR will target car owners and potential car owners age 18 to 55. It has not yet been determined whether the ads will mention prior Firestone tire problems.

The tires, included as standard equipment on Ford Explorer SUVs, have been linked to 170 deaths and 500 injuries on US highways. The Firestone division of Bridge-stone/Firestone posted a net loss of dollars 510 million in 2000. Its January US tire sales were down 40% from the year before. As many as 200 lawsuits have been filed against Ford and Firestone over tire-related crashes, although the company has been working in the past couple of months to settle as many as possible.

Ketchum began working with Firestone a few weeks after the company parted ways with previous agency of record Fleishman-Hillard in September 2000.

Ketchum has assigned four full-time staffers to the account.

See Editorial, page 8.





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