Tires Plus Total Car Care Inc., through its parent company Bridgestone/Firestone, has confirmed it is withdrawing its sponsorship of the 2013 Professional Tarpon Tournament Series as a result of efforts by Save The Tarpon’s more than 12,000 members and supporters worldwide.
“Tires Plus is not a 2013 PTTS sponsor,” according to Susan Steino, manager of public relations for Bridgestone Retail Operations LLC., which purchased the Clearwater-based tire and auto service chain in 2000.
Tires Plus had sponsored the controversial PTTS “Tires Plus Release Team,” which had become better known as the “Tires Plus Drag and Dump Crew” for its documented practice of dragging near-dead tarpon to the deepest part of Boca Grande Pass and dumping them. According to statements made on air by PTTS host Joe Mercurio, the team’s alleged purpose was to “revive” the fish.
Steino had earlier said Bridgestone was unaware its subsidiary was sponsoring the controversial tarpon tournament until the company began receiving phone calls and emails from Save The Tarpon supporters. Tires Plus was profiled January 21 as a PTTS sponsor.
Tires Plus is the second PTTS sponsor and the second Florida-based company to be “targeted” by Save The Tarpon’s “Do The Write Thing” awareness effort. The first, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses Inc., withdrew its PTTS sponsorship earlier last month in the wake of publication of a similar sponsor profile. Both former PTTS sponsors were part of a broader Save The Tarpon boycott campaign. Both have been removed from the list as a result of their decision to sever ties with the PTTS.
Tires Plus said a photo of a PTTS official wearing a company tee shirt while posing with his foot resting on a dead PTTS tarpon, along with other photographs and video at SaveTheTarpon.com and on Facebook showing roped tarpon being towed into the Pass by boats bearing the Tires Plus brand, hastened the company’s decision to become the latest sponsor to bolt the televised fishing tournament.
Daytona Beach-based Costa Del Mar Sunglasses Inc., a subsidiary of the A. T. Cross Company, was spotlighted by SaveTheTarpon.com in an online sponsor profile on December 28, 2012. Costa notified Save The Tarpon Inc. on January 13, 2013 that it, too, was cutting the sponsorship cord to the PTTS. Costa was subsequently removed from the Save The Tarpon boycott list. It has since received dozens of messages via Facebook alone praising the former PTTS sponsor for its prompt decision to end its affiliation with the tournament.
On February 4 the PTTS cited what Mercurio called “the persistent challenging economic operating environment” when it broke the news it was cancelling all but one of its women’s tournaments slated for 2013. The decision to abandon the women’s events came in the aftermath of Costa’s withdrawal and eight days prior to Tires Plus official announcement it was pulling the sponsorship plug. Sarasota-based Andros Boatworks ended its PTTS affiliation in June.
Save The Tarpon’s supporters reacted quickly and positively to news of Tires Plus Total Car Care’s decision to end its PTTS sponsorship. The company’s withdrawal was first announced to Save The Tarpon’s more than 10,600 followers on Facebook.
“This is where I will buy tires from here on!” Gregg Rodier wrote, just one of dozens of comments posted to the page. All echoed a similar theme. From Don Gable: “Thanks Tire Plus! Great move to preserve a great treasure!” Ditto Shane Sovan: “Way to make the right call!” And Vicki Lapple Hensley added: “Good going, now I might shop there again.” Save The Tarpon supporters have also posted comments praising the company’s decision on the Tires Plus Facebook page.
Facebook follower Ryan Hawks proclaimed “Victory!” and was among many who asked “Who’s next?” Stay tuned, Ryan. Stay tuned.