I believe that Toyota’s TV commercial offering reassurance is an example of “too little, too soon.” This post is an addendum to the previous blog post and discussion on adding value to a brand through information-rich advertising. Due to expanding recalls and government-voiced allegations, Toyota is a brand under siege. The TV spot that has been running heavily this month begins with something most of us already know: Toyota has had a reputation for reliable vehicles for 50 years. So what?
As Gerson Lehrman Group put it: “Before Toyota can raise its image from the ashes, the world’s largest automaker must make sure the fire is out.”
In my mind, the public is not ready for the feel-good stuff in a commercial. This is ineffective advertising; it offers no new valuable information, and right now the marketplace craves insight and answers.
While Toyota is showing happy families in their TV spot, we’ve got Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., saying “Not totally” when asked in a congressional hearing this week if he could say with certainty that the fixes now being undertaken will completely eliminate unintended acceleration problems. Is there a “smoking circuit” yet to be found? And now allegations that Toyota deliberately withheld key vehicle design and testing evidence in lawsuits filed by Toyota drivers injured in crashes.
So, bottom line, this ad content may remind Toyota owners of their past good experiences, or it may be greeted with indifference, but it may also inspire lots of social media conversations like this double Tweet from today: “I’m sorry, but this set of Toyota commercials where they are trying to convince us they are ‘so concerned’ about this recall – -I’m not buying it. They pretty much were forced to do it by congress, and now they want us to believe they are doing this cause they care.”