PR BLOG: Firestone Turns New Wheel Over!

The controversy between Firestone tires and the Ford Explorer became a large divorce court, which ended the century of marriage between the two companies. In May 2000 the Companies were contacted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for accidents that had occurred when people drove Ford Explorers with Firestone tires. There were 271 casualties and  many other injuries due to the crisis. 13% of Ford Explorers that had their tires blown flipped causing more injuries.

Ford and Firestone put researchers to work and found that there were errors on both sides. Ford claimed that they found evidence that 15′ Firestone tires (ATX, ATX 2 and Wilderness AT) had high failure rates. Firestone found that Ford was suggesting its users to fill their tires to 26 psi rather than the recommended 30 psi the incorrect amount  and the Ford Explorer put extra strain on the tires due to its new twin I-beam.

The two companies started pointing fingers at one another and refused to settle. This led to the companies going to court of the issue and finally both refusing to work with the other. Neither business admitted to having fault with the incidents. The situation worsened since Firestone’s public relations agency, Fleishman-Hillard, quit.

I think the agencies made several mistakes on both sides for not acting quicker to the issues. Instead of doing product call backs, the agencies dragged out the process and slowly did product recalls in small amounts.  Pushing blame on one another didn’t help the issue. There also was a lack of good communication between the companies and they didn’t want to confront the issue head on.

I respect what Firestone did to gain favor of the public again. When John Lampe, chief executive of Firestone, took over shortly after the crisis he came out and did the right thing. He apologized. For three years the company suffered profit loss but was able to regain ground and still remains on the market. It goes to show you that you can always make a comeback with the right motivation and the willingness to work when you have fire on all sides.

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