So you’ve got a product to sell.
You need to market it.
You’re in the automotive industry so you aim high.
Formula 1 is where you need to be.
Deal done and all’s going swimmingly. You have guaranteed race wins and untold television time. The sun is always rising in Bridgestone’s world
And then the rules change.
“We’d like you to make tyres that will fall apart, please.”
There are surely very few blue chip companies who would instruct their engineers to invest countless hours and hundreds of millions of dollars a year in designing and developing a product that has an inherent tendency to self-destruct. And yet Bridgestone, having successfully fulfilled their contractual obligations, are then vilified for producing a product that is supposedly not fit for the job at hand.
Sure, the petrolheads and racing anoraks out there all know the facts: F1 2010 is all about tyre wear and the inevitable unpredictability that brings. But do you think on Monday morning, when the housewife visits the fast-fit centre or the company accountant has to refit the fleet, that they’re going to choose the very brand of tyre they’ve just seen being rubbished by the best drivers on the planet?
Being the sport’s sole tyre supplier is a lose-lose scenario. F1’s lawmakers don’t take the flak when the tyre manufacturer seems to struggle with the limitations of the rules – quite the contrary. Up until Canada the drivers were griping that the tyres were too durable, and that one-stop races acted against overtaking; at Montreal, all of a sudden the tyres weren’t lasting long enough. Did this satisfy our hardy band of racers? Of course not.
Save for Bahrain the sport is having a banner year, with race after race producing fantastic, almost unmissable action. No, it’s the guys who make the sticky round rings that get all the negativity.
Ironic, really, since they’re doing such a great job, as they always have done.
Heaven knows our sport needs a kick up the arse when it comes to marketing itself, so why not start with a little positivity?
Post-practice or race it may be a good idea for Lewis, Mark, Sebastian, Fernando et al, rather than thanking the tea lady back in Woking, Milton Keynes or Maranello, to sprinkle a little sugar Bridgestone’s way.
Surely they deserve it.
Pirelli and Michelin: consider yourselves warned. Not all publicity is good publicity…