From Akron Beacon Journal
AKRON, OH — On your car, a tire tread is all about ride, traction and handling. On your shoe, it’s all about looking cool.
That’s right, a tire tread on your shoe.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has put one of its most prominent tread designs on the rubber soles of a new line of casual shoes being manufactured by German shoemaker adidas.
So far, the unlikely design seems to be catching on. More than 1 million pairs of shoes have been sold in hundreds of stores around the country since the shoes were launched last year — far more than the original goal of selling 10,000 shoes in a limited number of adidas boutique stores, Goodyear said.
“It was supposed to be a very small program,” Goodyear spokesman Chuck Sinclair said. “Obviously, it has caught on huge.”
From the top, the shoe has the retro style of a 1970s race-car driving shoe, worn by rally drivers and Monte Carlo road-racing drivers. It comes in two versions, low-top and high-top.
Turn it over, and you’ll see the Goodyear part: a rubber sole patterned after the Akron company’s V-shaped, Eagle F1 high-performance tire tread.
The words “Goodyear” and “adidas” appear on the sides of the shoe.
An adidas spokesman in New York said the shoes were inspired by once-popular road rally boots found in adidas archives from the 1970s, when the shoe company originally developed driving shoes for the Monte Carlo scene.
Goodyear said adidas approached the tire maker about two years ago with the idea of launching a new, fashionable shoe as a tribute to road racing. Goodyear has a long tradition of producing tires for European and American motor sports, while adidas was well-known for its athletic shoes.
The shoes hit a limited number of outlets last year, but have since grown. “The collection sold so well in both footwear and apparel that we have continued it through the current season,” adidas spokeswoman Kristen Caruso said.
It’s another example of the marketing principle of co-branding, or two established brands teaming up for a new product. Think of Ford Explorer’s Eddie Bauer edition, or Pillsbury brownies with Nestle chocolate, or McDonald’s salads with Paul Newman dressing. Sometimes two brands fit well together and can sell a combined product better than either one could separately.
Goodyear also licenses its brand for shoe-soling materials to Prince, Puma and Red Wing sports shoes, as well as Lehigh safety shoes and Dexter bowling shoes.
No word on whether Goodyear plans to launch an earth-mover-tread shoe next season.
Copyright 2004 Akron Beacon Journal. All Rights Reserved.
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