Goodyear in Review: the Many Attempts to be 'Blimp Worthy' in 2017

Bob Ulrich
Posted on January 2, 2018
This was the closing frame of the Goodyear commercial that aired during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Dec. 29, 2017.
This was the closing frame of the Goodyear commercial that aired during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Dec. 29, 2017.

Was 2017 a good year for Goodyear? That's a relative question. But the company, as Chairman, CEO and President Rich Kramer keeps saying, continues to follow its long-term strategy of embracing the revolutionary changes in technology (he calls them a "disruption"), catering to millennials, and “to work from the market back” to deliver the tires dealers demand the most, especially high value-added tires such as the Goodyear WeatherReady.

Through three quarters, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. posted net income of $442 million on net sales of $11.3 billion, resulting in a respectable income-to-sales ratio of 3.9%. However, income was down compared to the previous year. In addition, tire unit volume was down 6%.

“During the third quarter, we saw a continuation of the challenging industry conditions we experienced in the second quarter including lower consumer replacement volumes, production cuts by automakers and an increase of more than 30% in our raw material input costs,” said Kramer in October.

"Despite these headwinds, which we expect to moderate over the coming quarters, we continue to execute against our long-term strategy. We remain focused on the opportunities for driving profitable growth including our connected business model, which aligns all of our assets from our manufacturing plants to consumers who choose Goodyear online and at retail.”

That includes testing a mobile tire installation program in a few select markets, something both Bridgestone Americas Inc. and Michelin North America Inc. have already attempted with varying degrees of success.

Goodyear has spent a lot of money this year promoting the brand via sports marketing. In May the company announced its Wingfoot logo would appear on Cleveland Cavalier jerseys for three years. I estimate the cost of that deal at $10 million.

The company also sponsored the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic for the fourth year in a row. Goodyear, which renewed the contract for multiple years in 2016, would not reveal the cost of the partnership, but in late 2014 the Associated Press estimated the annual cost of the top-tier bowl games ranged from $25 million to more than $30 million.

As the year wound down, Goodyear leveraged both of those marketing decisions with television commercials celebrating the brand past and present. For the Cavaliers partnership, that included video of NBA superstar LeBron James.

The ad appeared prominently in the Christmas Day game between the Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. According to Bloomberg.com, the game drew a 5.5 overnight Nielsen rating (approximately 6.5 million households with television sets), making it one of the highest-rated Christmas NBA games ever on ABC. Sports Media Watch reported a 5.3 rating, which it said represented 9.5 million viewers.

For the Cotton Bowl matchup between the Ohio State Buckeyes and USC Trojans, it included a personal message from Kramer himself.

"From the 1955 Rose Bowl to this year's Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, the Goodyear blimp has covered college football's greatest moments," he said in the commercial. "Today, we celebrate the hard work, determination and grit of the Buckeyes and the Trojans. Happy Holidays from everyone at Goodyear."

According to the Futon Critic, which promotes itself as "the web's best television resource," Nielsen ratings for the Cotton Bowl came in at 5.9, up 84% compared to last year's game between Wisconsin and Western Michigan.

A hint at what this year holds for Goodyear will be revealed at the 2018 Goodyear Dealer Conference in Nashville Jan. 25-27. The first-quarter financials will follow in April. As always, we will keep you posted.

Related Topics: B.O.B., Cleveland Cavaliers, Cotton Bowl, Goodyear, Goodyear blimp, Goodyear financials, Rich Kramer, TV advertising, Wingfoot logo

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