Crisis management experts criticized Bridgestone/Firestone for minimizing their tires’ problems…

Crisis management experts criticized Bridgestone/Firestone for minimizing their tires’ problems during the week of August 11, 2000. The experts gave the company mixed reviews on its handling of the recall of 6.5 million tires that were responsible for 174 deaths and more than 300 incidents involving tires that allegedly shredded on the highway in 1999. The tire maker spokespersons claimed the poor tread on the tires was caused by under inflation, improper maintenance, and poor road conditions. Mark Braver man, principal of CMG Associates, a crisis-management firm in Newton, Massachusetts, noted that the company blamed the victim and that Bridgestone/Firestone lacked a visible leader for its crisis-management effort. “The CEO should be out there, not executive vice presidents.” Steve Fink, another crisis management expert, noted, “After they [Bridgestone/Firestone] announced the recall, they were not prepared to deal with it. They were telling consumers they will have to wait up to a year to get tires. And things like busy telephone call lines and overloaded Web sites— these are things that can be anticipated. That’s basic crisis management.” Stephen Greyser, professor of marketing and communications at Harvard Business School, stated, “It’s about what they didn’t do up to now. The fact that the company [Bridgestone/Firestone] is just stepping up to bat tells me they’ve never really had the consumer as the principal focus of their thinking.” Defending the way Bridgestone/ Firestone handled the crisis was Dennis Gioia, professor of organizational behavior at Smeal College of Business Administration at Pennsylvania State University: “With hindsight, you can always accuse a company of being too slow, given the history of automotive recalls. Sometimes you can’t take hasty action or you would be acting on every hint there’s a problem. It can create hysteria.”

Question for Discussion

Who do you agree or disagree with among these crisis-management consultants? Explain.


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