Goodyear Stock Tumbles Further After Trump Twitter Attack

The Goodyear blimp over Carson California in August 2014.
The Goodyear blimp over Carson, Calif. in August 2014. Founded in 1898 and based in Akron, Ohio, Goodyear is an iconic American brand, in part because of its blimps used for advertising and aerial broadcasts at sporting events. [Eric Glenn / Shutterstock]

Akron-based Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. found itself in the Twitter crosshairs of President Donald Trump Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a training slide posted by a Goodyear employee went viral because it categorized Blue Lives Matter and Make America Great Again attire as unacceptable in the workplace, while Black Lives Matter and LGBT apparel was deemed acceptable. Wednesday morning, President Trump tweeted "Don't buy GOODYEAR TIRES - They announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS. Get better tires for far less!"

Goodyear’s stock took a more than 2.5 percent dip Wednesday afternoon, after falling more than 10 percent Tuesday on reports of weaker than expected year-end earnings for 2020.

In a Wednesday statement, Goodyear said the visual in question was not created or distributed by the company’s corporate office and the tire maker will continue to support equality and law enforcement, saying the two are not mutually exclusive.

Goodyear associates are asked to refrain from political campaigning of any kind in the workplace, according to the statement.

David Giffels, University of Akron professor and author of “Barnstorming Ohio: To Understand America,” called Goodyear's statement a strong denial of the training visual and a strong statement on a corporate policy that does not allow political activity in the workplace.

But he is frustrated by the president’s tweets calling for a boycott of Goodyear.

Akron has worked hard to build and foster a national reputation, Giffels told ideastream Wednesday, but is feeling the effects of the economic downturn and other issues with city institutions.

“It's hard to be heard and seen when you're from a place like this and he can do a lot of damage without thought to something that he doesn't understand how much it takes for us to gain,” said Giffels, who also co-authored "Wheels of Fortune: The Story of Rubber in Akron" and was a longtime columnist at the Akron Beacon Journal. “FirstEnergy is dealing with the impact of the Householder fraud scheme. The art museum and United Way are dealing with their reputation being tarnished by recent events. We worry because we need Goodyear and we need those few defining institutions that we have.”

While Giffels doesn't think any stalwart Trump supporters will change their minds, it could have an effect on more moderate voters. “Few people expected Ohio to be as in play as it is this close to the election and little things are going to have big ripples for the next couple months,” Giffels said.

Likewise, critical statements from elected officials like Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Youngstown) and Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan (D) also can have an impact, he said.

“A few years ago, this might not have had the same effect, but right now I think it can be amplified and yes, I think it can be seized on to sway Ohioans emotionally and certainly Northeast Ohioans,” Giffels said.

Giffels said Akronites’ vulnerability and sensitivity to their national image is likely lost on Trump.

“The resonance of that tweet in Akron is far different in our ears, I think, than the person who tweeted it would imagine,” Giffels said.

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