Goodyear revamps

Goodyear Canada has found that by moving closer to its customers, it has also become more responsive to the competition.At the beginning of 1994, the company dissolved its head office structure and established Eastern, Central and Western regions.Ian McIntosh, Goodyear director...

Goodyear Canada has found that by moving closer to its customers, it has also become more responsive to the competition.

At the beginning of 1994, the company dissolved its head office structure and established Eastern, Central and Western regions.

Ian McIntosh, Goodyear director of sales and marketing consumer products, says the decision to regionalize was made to bring the company closer to its customer base – consumers and its network of 650 dealers.

React quickly

The added benefit is that Goodyear has been able to react more quickly to pricing pressures in various areas of the country.

‘We’re trying to be faster on our feet, and closer, in terms of the decision-making process,’ he says.

‘Instead of having a typical pyramid of power up top, we have flattened the organization out considerably and let decision-makers end up in all parts of the country and closer to our customers.

‘There’s still a core head office in Toronto, but we’ve taken a lot of what was in head office and stretched it across the country into three specific regional offices, with satellite offices beyond that.’

Since Goodyear has placed people in each regional office who are capable of making decisions and running parts of the communication program, changes to advertising can be made to react to a local price competitor the next day.

To be cost-efficient, all Goodyear advertising originates in Toronto out of Due North Communications, with placement by Optimedia, the media buying arm of FCB Canada.

From there, the company takes local direction in terms of pricing from the regional offices, and, for timing, looks at seasonality charts against the industry and the company’s own historic data.

Began last fall

The company’s regional thinking began last fall in terms of its marketing program when it changed direction from image to tactical advertising.

Goodyear is a 52-weeks-a-year newspaper advertiser and has redirected the portion of its annual advertising budget, estimated at $15 million last year, previously used for tv, to radio.

‘With a radio campaign, we can be flexible to run different weights, different times of the year in each region, where, with television, you can’t do that,’ McIntosh says.

‘Also, the product offers can be regionalized,’ he says. ‘It’s the same strategy with regional differences, giving the company flexibility to offer different prices where you need to.

‘With radio, we can be in a market quicker and easily change tags on existing copy. You can’t move that quickly with television.

‘I think that’s important in retail these days.’

McIntosh says the result of changing strategy is that sales went up 35% from September 1993 to the end of the year after the launch of the radio campaign.

He says 1994 is shaping up to be another positive year because of its regional approach of responding quickly to price competitors.

Goodyear continues to be tactical with its new spring advertising campaign, which launched in Ontario last week and will roll out at various times across the country.

The work is an expansion of the humorous fall 1993 radio campaign, which launched the ‘Goodyear. Expensive? Get over it’ theme.

Same actor

The four new 60-second spots, three with a tire sale focus and one automotive servicing, again feature California-based actor Tom Sharpe, ‘The Goodyear Guy,’ who has been starring in the company’s broadcast and print advertising for more than two years.

The only tv planned for spring is an existing Aquatred spot from last year, which has been made more tactical with the addition of a retail tag at the end.

The ‘Goodyear. Expensive?’ theme was developed last year because the company found that while its products were competitively priced in the marketplace, public perception was that it was a high-priced brand.

‘We needed to get on the consideration list,’ McIntosh says.

‘Once we did that, people started shopping, and realized they could get a Goodyear tire at the same price as an awful lot of inferior brand tires,’ he says.

‘It was just a matter of telling people we are as competitive in every price point as anybody else.’

McIntosh says when Sharpe was introduced as ‘The Goodyear Guy’ on tv two years ago, it was a relaunch proposition for the company.

In the past, he says, ‘we tried to tell people what we do.’

‘We spent two years establishing the fact that we did more than just tires. We did auto service, too. It was the whole tune-up message. Not just tires, tune-ups.

‘Once we established that, it was time to start asking for the order.’

While McIntosh says Goodyear realizes it will need to kickstart its image advertising every now and then, he feels the company can ride the plateau created by the image campaign for a little while longer.

‘The tune-up advertising hasn’t been on-air for a year and a half now, and we still, in research, get an awful lot of consumer response identifying the tune-up guy,’ he says. ‘There’s been a huge residual effect.

‘We have to reinforce that periodically, but, at the same time, I believe very strongly we don’t have to have a pure brand campaign to deliver a brand image.

‘You can still accomplish that in a retail tactical plan that’s done properly and reinforces the necessary elements.’