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Al Eastwood has been busy adding some new tricks to the repertoire of an old brand.

"There has been a trend in our industry to look at tires as a commodity and we have always refused to accept that," says the 57-year-old VP-marketing, North American Tires, for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Goodyear was the last major tire distributor to still rely on an network of independent dealers to showcase its line of replacement tires. However, as more consumers turned to mass merchandisers and tire discounters, Mr. Eastwood says, "It became more obvious that we were going to have to get into [new] channels."

In 1992, Goodyear tires began showing up at Sears and the company has expanded into Wal-Mart, Discount Tire and Montgomery Ward since then.

Of course, growing market share always helps build harmonious partnerships, and Goodyear's flattens that of its nearest competitors. In 1995, Goodyear's share of the replacement passenger-tire market stood at 16%, no change from the year before but almost double that of Firestone's 8.5%. Goodyear spent $79.6 million in '95 media advertising

"We involve our agencies and ad division at the very early stages of our product planning stategy [so they can also] operate with a strategic view of the business," says Mr. Eastwood, a 32-year veteran of Goodyear.

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