The Truth About Cars » Firestone The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 14 Jul 2014 16:00:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Firestone Building An Icon Thu, 18 Apr 2013 14:40:09 +0000

The Nike Swoosh. The McDonalds Golden Arches. The Chevy Bowtie.

When you see them, you know them. Decades and billions of dollars are dedicated to make a ride on the freeway or, a walk in a park, a frequent subliminal reminder of how worthy a given brand is of your time.

Firestone is just beginning to invest in the icon you see here. What do you think?

The idea behind it is…

“You’re not driving a car, you’re driving a Firestone.”

The slogan has been enunciated, imprinted, and emblazoned on tens of thousands of advertisements over the past year. Print. Online. TV. Cable. Radio. The owners of Firestone are trying to make your used car, a Firestone car.

This is obviously a tall leap when it comes to brand identification; which is why Firestone has such a painfully challenging road for their new ‘F’ icon. For over 100 years cars have been identified by their marque. Mercedes-Benz. Cadillac. Honda. These brands not only exude a high level of awareness in the new car market, but an equally unique and compelling level of prestige in popular culture.

Mercedes symbolizes wealth. Even those who are financially struggling like to pretend they’re rich by owning one. From country clubs to rap videos. Everyone knows a Mercedes.

Cadillac is the king of American luxury. From the 1930’s when a ‘Cadillac’ referred to a gram of cocaine. To the 1960’s where a Cadillac ranch would undoubtedly have a matching Cadillac in the garage.  To even the mansions of today where a lot of folks are still willing to pay for the Cadillac of SUV’s.

Honda symbolizes Japanese engineering and enduring quality. The Honda of minivans in today’s advertising world is a mere continuation of the quality people you met 50 years ago on a Honda Scooter. Honda is quality incarnate thanks to a continuous advertising campaign that has always hammered away at that virtue.

Firestone has been popularized for their tires and their auto repair centers. Billions of tires sold. 10,000+ auto repair centers. A long winning history with NASCAR and a common sight on most rolling commercial roadfronts of the modern day, Firestone is an instantly recognizable name.

However that seems to be part of the problem. For nearly a century you needed to see the whole name to see the Firestone logo.

The full name of yesterday is now given an automotive emblem for today — along with a shift in identification from products and services for a used car, to the car itself.

Can a car wear two badges? Three? Four? If so, how can you put value into products and services that are usually catered to the non-enthusiast?

Is Firestone seeking to gradually usurp the brand identities of used cars? Or are they trying to compliment the brand identity that is already there?

I have no clear understanding of where this road leads to. At the same time, this is likely not the fault of the company or the advertising agency. It takes years of a compelling vision, endless instillations of nuance, and a change in popular culture to make a brand truly iconic.

Can Firestone ever become an iconic brand?   Or were they already there?



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U-Haul Won’t Rent Trailers To Explorers, Idiot Lawyers (Not Unibody Construction) To Blame Thu, 26 May 2011 18:18:11 +0000

Should you be afraid of towing in a new Ford Explorer? Though the newly-unibody Explorer is rated for up to 5,000 pounds, Jack Baruth noted in his review that

My experience pulling my race car on an open trailer with my Flex indicates that the D4 chassis is more than up to the job, but that the transmission just feels delicate. Serious towing with a sideways gearbox frightens me, and it should frighten you, too.

And though you might well share Jack’s nervousness about towing in a new Explorer, the law of the land says it’s safe pulling up to 5,000 pounds. Even so, Consumer Reports found out the hard way that not everyone believes in the Explorer as a safe, effective towing machine. Namely the equipment rental company U-Haul appears to have some kind of problem with the Explorer, as  CR’s Eric Evarts explains

I called U-Haul to see about renting their largest, 6×12-foot open trailer to drag the mulch home. “Come on down! $29.95 for the day,” the friendly attendant said.

Eager to finish that day and save $18 by delivering the mulch myself, I trundled off to the local U-Haul lot. As the workers started to fill out the paperwork inside, their faces went ashen the second I said, “Explorer.”

“Sorry, we won’t let any equipment out behind an Explorer,” they said, and began putting away their pencils.


Huh? is right. One might well worry about the long-term effects on ones “sideways transmission’s” health, but that should hardly concern U-Haul. Do they care if you need a rebuild at 50k miles? Not so much. Nor are they concerned that unibody construction makes for a less capable or safe hauler. In fact, U-Haul’s concern seems to date back to the previous body-on-frame Explorer, to which the new CUV is in no way related.

“Corporate policy, since the Firestone lawsuits,” they said. “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do for you.” (Ford was sued in a class-action lawsuit in 1998 over defective Firestone tires on early Ford Explorers, which led to several deadly rollover accidents. The lawsuit was eventually settled. But this new Explorer has zero in common with those early SUVs except the nameplate.)

When we called U-Haul corporate later to check on the policy, Joanne Fried, director of media and corporate relations confirmed the policy. “Every time we go to hire an attorney to defend a lawsuit, as soon as we say ‘Ford Explorer,’ they charge us more money.” She said the policy also applies to Jeep Wranglers, unless they have a hard-top installed.

As we waited on hold for a few minutes, the corporate recording recited: “If you need to tow, U-Haul is the only name you need to know, and the only place you need to go.” Apparently not if you drive a Ford Explorer. In that case, you need to go elsewhere.

Talk about a perfect illustration of the state of legal liability in this, our most litigious society. Because the new Explorer is called an Explorer, and because layers charge U-Haul more for doing business with any Ford Explorer owner, U-Haul and its obviously scrupulous and detail-oriented lawyers have completely failed to notice that the new Explorer has literally nothing to do with the old one. Which would be akin to arguing that the CR-Z shouldn’t be called a hybrid because it’s the “spiritual successor” to the CRX. Or buying a new Buick Regal or Scion xB because you liked the previous one. Earth to U-Haul: the new Explorer has no more to do with the Firestone recall than the Ford Edge or Flex. Time to tell those lawyers they have their heads up their… pocketbooks.

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