SBJ/May 30 - June 6, 2011/In Depth

The Gatekeepers: Phil Pacsi

Vice president of consumer marketing, Bridgestone Americas

Phil Pacsi’s degree in chemistry might appear unorthodox for the top marketing executive of Bridgestone Americas’ tire operations, who oversees sports marketing for both the Bridgestone and Firestone tire brands.

Pacsi spent the first half of his 28-year career with Bridgestone developing fabric and rubber compounds in the heavy-duty materials development department before joining the marketing division in 1994. The engineering background, Pacsi said, helped him develop his marketing philosophy, which is to stress the brand’s tire performance in all driving conditions to as wide an audience as possible.

BRIDGESTONE
Phil Pacsi
“We’re trying to align with the high-profile leagues and events,” Pacsi said. “We want to get as many people to know our brand as possible.”

Bridgestone is partnered with the NFL (including an ownership role of the Super Bowl Halftime Show), NHL (including the Winter Classic) and PGA Golf. The Firestone brand sponsors the in-stadium balloting for the MLB All-Star Game, and is the official tire of the Izod IndyCar racing series.

At events, Bridgestone’s engagement marketing invites fans to play interactive games that incorporate the company’s tires. NHL fans, for example, must shoot a puck through a tire for a chance to win a set of Bridgestone’s latest all-weather product; NFL fans receive a similar award for tossing a football through tires. Company reps also talk with participants about each tire.

“We bring the tires into a situation where most people wouldn’t think about connecting with them,” Pacsi said. “I call
it disconnect philosophy.”

Pacsi said the brand’s success in sports at the national level has highlighted a need to extend into local markets, where Bridgestone’s marketing team sees the most growth potential. The brand owns the naming rights to the Bridgestone Arena in the company’s corporate hometown of Nashville, however the brand leaves local activation with sports teams up to its retailers.

“We can get further with our consumers if we do a better job locally,” Pacsi said. “We just need to work closer with our local retailers to do more.”

Strangest pitch received: One company that claimed it would provide an exclusive opportunity for a partnership. Unfortunately, the sender had included marketing reps from all of Bridgestone’s major competitors on the email as well, which lessened the attractiveness of an “exclusive” deal.

The onset of social media means they can: “Keep our message fresh.”
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