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Shifting into Overdrive

Looking to push the brand into "overdrive," Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. took 25 of its best Kelly brand dealers to Kelley’s Island, Ohio, in mid-June for what it dubbed a "major announcement."

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Goodyear Looks to OE as it Sets Plans to Revitalize Kelly Brand

Looking to push the brand into "overdrive," Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. took 25 of its best Kelly brand dealers to Kelley’s Island, Ohio, in mid-June for what it dubbed a "major announcement."

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Kelley’s Island is a small but determined little town in the western basin of Lake Erie that matches "the spirit of the entrepreneurial independent tire dealers who have grown their business and Kelly’s throughout history," said Mark McDonald, director of marketing for Kelly brand consumer tires.

Inside the Kelley’s Island town hall, executives told dealers and media that Goodyear is looking to return the brand to prominence, and turn around Kelly marketshare that has slipped from years past.

Goodyear strategically placed green and white Kelly flags around the island and even got the mayor to change the island’s name to Kelly Island, at least temporarily. "Whereas, it is just too good of a promotional opportunity to pass it up, I do hereby declare June 12, 2003 to be Kelly Day on Kelly’s Island," the mayor’s proclamation read.

"We’re going to put Kelly back on the map," McDonald said. "In total, the actions that we are taking for our independent tire dealers will provide the framework for a resurgence of the Kelly brand, which is a key element of our company’s road to recovery.

"We want our loyal dealers to know that the road to recovery leads directly through the independent tire dealer."

Goodyear’s multi-point plan includes putting more money into the brand, providing more coverage across the country – especially in places not currently reached, adding more sizes to existing lines, beefing up advertising, jumping into the OE market, and reviving the popular Kelly advisory council.

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Goodyear now has dedicated sales and marketing staffs solely for the Kelly brand and vowed that the brand won’t be sold to mass merchants or price clubs – only to independent dealers.

"Today is about re-energizing a great American brand name," Jon Rich, president of Goodyear’s North American Tire division, told dealers. "We’re not Kelly Tires, you (the dealers) are Kelly Tires. We are committed to keeping Kelly a tire for independent dealers. Kelly is a great tire and we’re going to concentrate on making it better."

Arguably, what piqued dealer interest the most was Goodyear taking Kelly to the OE market. However, the only reason for doing that "is to drive business to the dealers," said McDonald.

Without getting into specifics, the tiremaker said that many automakers have "expressed a strong interest" in getting the brand for OE. Additionally, Goodyear also said that it is "actively working" with several OEMs on 15- and 16-inch size fitments.

"Our strategy with the vehicle manufacturers is to strategically place the brand where it makes sense to create the best pull-through opportunity at replacement," said Kevin Kramer, vice president of OE sales for Goodyear. "This is a huge opportunity for dealers to capture additional replacement share on vehicles on which the owners were already predisposed to replacing the tires with the original brand."

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Other highlights from the meeting:

®′ Dealers will see a boost in advertising spending in the form of TV and radio spots featuring local dealer tags.

®′ Over the next two years, dealers will see some 50 new sizes designed to simplify Kelly lines and reduce SKUs. Goodyear said it will also improve its supply chain.

®′ The Kelly advisory board will be reinstituted. The tiremaker isn’t sure yet, but the board could include 10 to 15 dealers who would meet three or four times a year.

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