With Friends Like These: Southeast Toyota Dealers Pull ABC Ads Over Recall Coverage

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Toyota’s PR efforts have been competent if muted during the ongoing recall scandal. Though it could certainly have done more in the past weeks (specifically by making top leadership more available to the public) Toyota has carefully avoided overreacting to the mushrooming media frenzy. Until now. The NYT’s Wheels Blog reports that the 173 Toyota dealers who make up Toyota Southeast have pulled regional ads from ABC stations because of “excessive stories on the Toyota issues.” Toyota Southeast’s ad agency 22Squared says “We have counseled the client on the pros and cons of this, and ultimately it was their decision to make.” Toyota continues to run corporate ads on ABC, but the petulant backlash from its Southeast dealers can’t help but reflect poorly on the brand. Any PR pro will tell you (and presumably 22Squared counseled its clients of this), that these kinds of strong-arm tactics do nothing to improve public perceptions of a brand. Toyota dealers might feel that the parent company is not doing enough on the PR front, but this approach will only create the need for more PR in the future.

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4 of 24 comments
  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Feb 10, 2010

    there's no such thing as bad publicity - and Toyota dealers were getting a ton of it. Why do such a stupid boneheaded move like this?

  • JSF22 JSF22 on Feb 10, 2010

    Petulance such as Southeast Toyota is showing rarely works. As another poster noted, Toyota's competitors will snap up the newly available airtime for a fraction of the rate card, largely made up by SET still having to pay for the canceled time. They're also missing the fact that many viewers are dumb enough to think that the networks and stations are endorsing the products advertised over their air. As part of its recovery, Audi actually ran a fairly heavy schedule on "60 Minutes."

  • CarPerson CarPerson on Feb 10, 2010
    Wednesday, February 10, 2010. Just another in the continuous string of days where "The Toyota Issue" is either on the front page or front page of the Business section (B1) or both in the New York Times.

  • Ernie Ernie on Feb 11, 2010

    Am I the only one that sees this as a simple and less devious: Money spent advertising (more correctly, running ads that were crafted before the current PR debacle) at this time on channels COVERING the current PR debacle might not actually lead to sales? I have relatives in advertising/marketing -> when they advertise on channels that are featuring them already, it's to double the effectiveness of the ad, not to reward the channel for doing something for them.