Can marketing & PR save Toyota?

toyota logo

even when you don't want to

No. But, these 6 steps can.

1. Change your tagline. I know this sounds like it’s not important, but “Moving forward” was bad to begin with and now is plain embarrassing. “Moving forward…even when you don’t want to.”

2. Resign. Someone has to resign or be fired over this. Not a scapegoat—someone who was making these boneheaded decisions to put profit before safety. We all know there’s more than one, so get to it. This should’ve already happened.

3. Let an independent party investigate. Face it. You blew this so bad you can’t be trusted. Even if you are right about the reasons these cars failed, no one will believe you. Hire a trusted third party to publicly investigate and then correct the problems.

4. Stop advertising. The other night I saw your old car wash ad, touting “Toyota reliability.” Do I have to say any more?

And your new commercials? “80% of Toyotas are still on the road today.”  News flash: we no longer think that’s a good thing. I know I cringe every time a Toyota is behind me.  Your Sienna ads crack me up. I LOVE that you show Toyota’s best use as a stationary sort of quiet room that sits in the driveway! It’s perfect for all those Toyota lovers who are too afraid now to drive one. Really though—just stop. Please.

5. Innovate. Use the lessons from this experience to create an automated better way to track and respond to recalls. Make it so efficient and so great that while exclaiming “wow” over it, we start forgetting the whole mess that led you to this invention. Of course, you might want to outsource the electronic part of this. In fact, crowdsource the whole project. Get input from all the Toyota owners who are affected by the defective cars and the recall.

6. Apologize. For real this time. Let all your employees who genuinely feel sorry about this publicly apologize. Create docu-ads that show what you’re doing to fix the problem and prevent any more. Do NOT use actors. Use real employees. And really, if you don’t understand what you did wrong, then see step number two.

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