Babbling B’s Blog

Toyota: too late or restoring the faith?

Posted on: February 12, 2010

This post appeared on VitaminIMC – Medill IMC’s student-run blog.

No marketing communications professional looks forward to the day they must navigate a company crisis. Toyota’s recent floor mat and sticky pedal safety recalls are the most recent examples of balancing damage control with open communications. The safety recalls and Toyota’s subsequent responses open the potential for major damage to their strong brand built on safe, reliable, high-quality vehicles.

Meeting the challenge head-on, Toyota launched a comprehensive PR strategy to address the situation openly and honestly. Their website, www.toyota.com/recall, includes updates on what’s being done to address the problems and has videos with more information for consumers—such as what to do if they experience trouble braking.

Adding to the open dialogue, Jim Lentz, President & CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., apologizes to customers in a video on the site, closing by saying: “Once again, I apologize for the situation and I hope you’ll give us the chance to earn back your trust.”

The newly released television commercial echoes his sincere words, telling a story of commitment and painting a picture that highlights 172,000 Toyota employees’ dedication.

But will this campaign be enough to calm consumers after months of bad news? It took nearly 10 days for Toyota to launch this response strategy, and consumer perception has dropped to a new low. If they hope to uphold their brand values, Toyota must avoid additional crises and continue to create open and honest dialogue to fuel positive brand momentum.

What do you think? Can Toyota restore the faith in their company?

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