Goodyear Tires and Cars 2: Selling Adult Brand Via Kiddie Film


There is certainly no shortage of brands with tie-ins and merchandise related to Cars 2, which opens Friday. Goodyear, which is called “Lightyear” within the movie, talked to us about its strategy for targeting adults who buy the tires via a film directed at their kids. [more] 

Within the animated world of Cars 2 there are boatloads of brands, almost none of them real. Allinol, for instance, is some kind of petroleum or oil brand. Those who watch closely will see a real brand disguised as a fake brand.

The tires of lead character Lightning McQueen are branded “Lightyear,” both a clever play on Pixar’s Buzz Lightyear Toy Story character as well as real-life brand partner Goodyear.

To tie into the film, Goodyear reskinned its website with the faux brand, a first. Additionally, instead of adding a small button or a simple sweepstakes, Goodyear created a whole microsite, using Cars characters front and center.

“Goodyear understands that if it wants people to think Goodyear first, the brand needs to be in places where consumers are, and that’s in digital,” said Victor Lee, SVP of marketing at Digitas, which executed the digital cross-promotion. “The Cars 2 site transformation provides unique access and content ultimately creating an active and fun brand experience. By leveraging partnerships like this through digital, we’re able to engage customers before and during the tire-buying journey.”

To really nail the depth of the tie-in, Goodyear is adding Cars characters to its point-of-sale materials, and even hosted “real” Cars characters at its Akron headquarters.

Goodyear’s role as “Lightyear” goes back to the first Cars film. Goodyear brand director Garth Ely explained in a release that “Director John Lasseter approached Goodyear during production of the first ‘Cars‘ movie because he wanted it to feel authentic, right down to the tires.” 

But just how does Goodyear make the leap from children’s entertainment property to adult brand campaign? Garth Ely told us that Cars 2 allows Goodyear to “tell a tire story in a new and, perhaps, unexpected, way.” Ely explains that “Kids will be accompanied by parents, grandparents, those who are potential tire shoppers, so the audience is a good one. This reinforces why we are using in-theater advertising, in-lobby posters, pre-movie on-screen Screenvision spots and more.”

As the most lucrative Disney Pixar merchandising property of all time, it’s probably not a stretch to believe that any partnership with Cars 2 is a good investment. But just like in the real world, the Cars world is not without marketplace competition. In Goodyear’s Lightyear’s case, it has to be sure to differentiate itself from fake fake competitors.