Goodyear Launches Confusing Publicity Stunt

When you think of exciting brands, it’s almost certain you won’t hear the name Goodyear come up in any discussion. The brand, around since the late 1800s, has always marketed itself as a traditional company. Its ads have centered around its premium quality, trustworthiness, and even its roles in American history.  As far as marketing tactics go,the brand continues the traditional route. Ask anyone to think of how Goodyear advertises and they’ll say “blimps.” Since 1925, Goodyear has used the Goodyear Blimps to promote their brand at events, including the Worlds Fairs in the early 1900s. Late last month Goodyear apparently  hoped to change this with a celebrity-ridden publicity stunt.

Stepping out of its normal, more traditional marketing tactics, Goodyear made headlines after writing an edgy letter to struggling celebrities Lindsey Lohan and Amanda Bynes. The actresses (or whatever they are now) make the news almost weekly, getting into mischief for drugs, alcohol abuse, drunk driving, and hitting pedestrians with their cars. The situation apparently gave Goodyear a bright idea for a marketing campaign. Goodyear is a tire company. Lindsey and Amanda get in trouble with their driving. What better idea than to connect the two together to make the news?

Goodyear decided to write a letter to Lindsey and Amanda expressing concern for their driving habits. They offered the celebrities to be flown out to their corporate offices in Ohio to get driving lessons from their on site professional drivers. The two would be able to learn how to drive safely, and do so without the paparazzi allowed on company grounds.

As the expected, their publicity stunt worked and they made the evening news. However, reaction to the letters has been mixed- some say the idea is humorous, others that it just doesn’t make sense. Why would a company with over a hundred years of brand trust sell out to celebrities that aren’t the best role models? The VP of PR calls it “opportunistic PR.” I call it strange. It’s great that the letters have made us talk about a brand normally not on our radar. Most of us are not in-market for tires at the moment. When we do go to the auto shop, what will we think of when choosing tires? When we see Goodyear, will we think 100 years of quality or a letter about drug abusing celebrities?

-Bryan Nagy