Firestone is finding its groove with country music.

The Bridgestone Americas, Inc. brand this year has added five music festivals to its Destination Country music platform.

Ties include the Stagecoach music festival in Indio, Calif.; Kicker Country Stampede in Manhattan, Kansas; Boots and Hearts Music Festival in Oro-Medonte, Ontario; and the Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam in Panama City Beach, Fla.

Firestone also has broadened its partnership with the Country Thunder Music Festival in Twin Lakes, Wisc. with a tie to the festival’s sister event in Florence, Ariz.

Bridgestone launched Destination Country in 2014 to engage consumers who “work hard and play hard,” an audience segment that aligns with truck-driving country music fans.  Firestone—the tire manufacturer’s mid-tier brand between Bridgestone and Fusion—targets 25-to-54-year-olds with household income of $50,000 or more.

The program is named after Firestone Destination, Firestone’s line of truck tires.

The music marketing platform replaces Firestone’s partnership with Major League Baseball, a tie it dropped following the 2014 season.

Firestone opted out of the six-year-old partnership due to several factors including MLB’s small number of tent pole events (MLB All-Star Game and Fall Classic) and competitive deals at the team level.

“Major League Baseball positioned nicely with the brand, but it was time to move to a space that wasn’t occupied,” said Phil Pacsi, vice president of sports and event marketing with Bridgestone Americas.

Replaces Music Tour With Music Festivals
Firestone uses music and its long-running motorsports program to engage the “work hard, play hard” set. The brand launched Destination Country last year with presenting status of the Legends Day concert at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The concert—headlined by Jason Aldean—took place the day before the Indianapolis 500. Firestone is the official tire of the Verizon Indy Car Series.

“We have a long history with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500. We were talking, and they said they wanted to launch a country music platform, and we said we wanted to launch a country music platform.”  

Pleased with the concert’s success—the event drew more than 40,000 attendees—Firestone extended its relationship with Aldean with product display at ten stops on the musician’s 2014 “Burn It Down” tour.

While the tour provided access to a significant number of consumers, Pacsi was disappointed by the depth of engagement.

“The one-and-done aspect was discouraging. We engaged people going to their seats, but we didn’t get a lot of time to talk to them.”

Firestone subsequently switched focus to music festivals, an environment that typically offers longer engagement opportunities. Ties included the ACM Party for a Cause Festival in Arlington, Texas; CMA Music Festival in Nashville; and the Country Thunder Music Festival.

“Festivals are a great place for consumers to engage the brand. People have time on their hands and are willing to engage.”

Firestone hosts acoustic sets, selfie photo opportunities and other activities to draw consumers to its on-site display.

Firestone chose the 2015 festivals based in part on the routing schedule of Florida Georgia Line, a country music act that will headline next month’s Legend Day concert. While Firestone does not have an official relationship with the band, it hopes to build an affinity with fans through an implied endorsement with the music duo.

“Firestone will have a nice connection with the band in Indianapolis, and we’re tagging on to other festivals where the band is playing.”

Going forward, Firestone plans to leverage current and future music festivals with ticket sweepstakes and other promotional activity with independent tire retailers. The brand this year is entertaining retailers at the music fests.  

“Engaging local retailers will be part of our planning for 2016 and 2017.”

Chicago-based Marketing Werks manages Firestone’s on-site execution.