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Bridgestone launches offensive to foster greater road safety

Oct, 06 2014

Paris 2014 press conference

Raising awareness at the Paris motor show press conference

Bridgestone is taking its responsibility seriously, as the world’s number 1 tyre and rubber manufacturer, to foster greater safety out on the roads via a well-rounded strategy. Supported by market research, a comprehensive awareness campaign and ongoing investments in new, innovative technologies, Bridgestone hopes to leverage the capacity of its premium tyres to increase safety for all road users. A high-impact media campaign aims to counter conflicting consumer beliefs and behaviour around tyre safety and boost awareness not only for the importance of choosing quality tyres but also of checking and maintaining them regularly. Coupled with Bridgestone’s relentless search for new technologies that ensure superior safety, efficiency and performance, it is hoped that these initiatives will have the power to change not only the direction of product development but also of consumer behaviour, an often neglected side of the story when it comes to tyre safety.

The conflict between consumer belief and consumer behaviour
Market research collected by Bridgestone over the past few years reveals a rather fundamental conflict between the beliefs many consumers have about tyre safety and their corresponding attitudes and (buying) behaviour. On the one hand, there is strong demand for greater tyre safety. According to a study carried out by Bridgestone in 2013, 43% of customers consider this to be the number 1 criteria when purchasing tyres. In addition, tens of thousands of tyre safety checks carried out by Bridgestone across Europe in 2012 reveal that 78% of drivers drive on underinflated tyres, not only compromising their ability to brake and manoeuvre safely but also consuming more fuel and wearing out much more quickly.

However, it is not merely in relation to tyre maintenance that consumers often act paradoxically. Despite high consumer awareness for the importance of safety when choosing tyres, consumer buying behaviour is also going in the opposite direction. One of the main issues faced in certain markets is the fact that the average customer is mainly cost-driven. In a recent test published last month by German magazine GTU(1), a comparison was made between a premium tyre manufacturer and 6 low-cost tyres. The difference in braking distances in the wet were as high as 12m while the residual speed between the premium and worst rated tyre was 44kph, clearly demonstrating the vast gap that often lies between premium and low-cost tyres in terms of safety,

Comprehensive awareness campaign putting tyre safety in the spotlight
In an effort to counter this consumer tendency, Bridgestone has invested in a brand-new TV and multimedia campaign aimed at tipping the balance in favour of greater tyre safety.

Laurent Dartoux, Senior Vice-President Sales & Marketing at Bridgestone Europe commented at the Paris motor show: “As the global industry number 1, we feel a responsibility at Bridgestone to take a leading role in the offensive for improved safety on the roads. And as our new TV campaign aims to get across, tyres are the only one of a car’s safety systems that actually touch the road. You may have a car equipped with all the latest safety devices, but if it is not fitted with premium and well maintained tyres, the driver and their passengers will not be able to travel in safe conditions. With that key message in mind, this new campaign places safety at the heart of our strategy at Bridgestone.”

The Bridgestone brand campaign will be launched  as an integrated cross-channel campaign across major European markets in September/October. The media plan includes a wide variety of channels with a joint TV and video approach to build up reach and interaction. Additionally, there will be broad Out of Home activities including innovative special formats, eye-catching online-executions and print support.

Cutting-edge research & development programme investing in the future
Of course, it only makes sense as a brand to raise awareness for the superior safety and performance of well-maintained, premium tyres when your own products can stand up to the challenge. Which is why Bridgestone invests more in research and development than any other company in the industry, aiming at making sure its products can deliver the safety, reliability and performance drivers want and need.

The fact that Bridgestone produces the largest range of premium tyres in the world, covering all types of vehicles from trucks and buses to motorcycles, aeroplanes, agricultural and construction machinery and of course passenger cars, also provides valuable insights into the constraints governing safety and performance across a full spectrum of road, vehicle and weather conditions.

For proof of the success of Bridgestone’s approach, one need look no further than the new Blizzak LM001 winter passenger tyre which recently emerged as the top tyre in terms of wet performance in the highly regarded annual ADAC winter tyre test. Bridgestone’s flagship winter tyre also earned the coveted “very recommendable” rating from ADAC with a second spot in overall performance just a few months after receiving the seal of approval from the equally highly regarded independent authority, TÜV. Bridgestone’s mid-market brand, Firestone also performed extremely well in the ADAC test, earning second place for fuel consumption and beating several premium brands to also earn the “very recommendable” rating.

These impressive test results are the outcome of a long-standing focus on safety in Bridgestone’s tyre development programme. The company, for instance, was one of the early pioneers behind the innovative Run-Flat Technology that has revolutionised the tyre industry while greatly improving driver safety and making good on Bridgestone’s promise of ensuring motorists get to their destination safely, whatever the road - or weather - may throw their way.

(1) Tests carried out by GTÜ, September 2014