Tony Stewart Puts Goodyear in a PR Tailspin

“Goodyear can’t build a tire worth a crap,” said driver Tony Stewart on Sunday at the Atlanta Speed Motorway about new tires the NASCAR sponsor created specifically for the race. “The tires were made with a harder material so they would not wear down, but that made handling difficult,” said Ed Clark, president of Atlanta Motor Speedway. “Issues with the handling made drivers more cautious and the race less exciting and that disappointed fans.”

video of Stewart vowing to “go home and take everything that has Goodyear on it off and put Firestones on to feel a lot safer” has been circulating YouTube and fan sites today. Not exactly the kind of result Goodyear expected after paying millions to be the exclusive NASCAR tire sponsor.

So far, there’s only been a non-comment comment from Justin Fantozzi, marketing manager for Goodyear Motorsports who said, “We don’t make decisions for any reason but to provide the safest tire.”

While it’s good to distance themselves from Stewart’s comments. (Directly addressing Stewart would only flame the fire.) With other drivers now joining in the complaints, I’d say Goodyear should quickly explain the specific problem the drivers were having and describe how it will be fixed. Take responsibility. Then action. And, move on.

As far as the success of their sponsorship goes, William Pate, president of marketing at Career Sports & Entertainment in Atlanta, said “NASCAR fans are a loyal lot. Studies show 70 percent buy products associated with the sport and there’s a huge gap between second place. It will be interesting to see what comes next.”

Added Note: I just want to give props to Jerry Edwards who posted this idea in the comments section: “They should hire Tony as a consultant. He uses their product to make a living. Who better to give Goodyear the guidance they need to make a tire that delights its customers. ” I love this idea. Great hay could be made.

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