Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Toyota Goes Digital to Market Safety Perception Gap

Toyota is in a real tailspin lately after countless recalls and the latest JD Power Quality Rating that gave the automaker a terrifying drop from 6th to 21st place out of 33 brands. Some industry pundits feel Toyota has enjoyed a leisurely advantage from their customers’ perception of strong quality over the years while in reality it has been deteriorating. A recent episode of Autoline After Hours had host John McElroy commenting on how all of the news is finally showing some of the chinks in Toyota’s quality armor that many consumers have known this for years. (As a side note: If you like this blog, you'll love Autoline After Hours it is by far the best Auto Industry podcast. I highly recommend it for weekly viewing.)

Whatever the case with Toyota’s real or perceived quality and safety issues are they have launched a major digital media campaign to respond to the safety issue.

The initial response was Toyota’s Recall landing page, but now they are moving to a strategic response around “Toyota Safety”. The online ads are directing people to the new safety site that communicates some of Toyota’s efforts around building safe cars. They feature their IIHS Top Safety Pick ratings, their SMART Teams who conduct rapid on-site analysis of issues, and their TV spots (online video) feature safety engineers and families that trust the brand. “At Toyota, we’re currently investing one million dollars an hour to enhance the safety and technology of our vehicles.”

Toyota has even branded their five safety features under the “Star Safety System” which is now standard on all their vehicles. What is the system? It’s traction control, stability control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, and brake assist.

The latest ad buy was one recently used by Chevrolet on Yahoo! Mail that uses a background look to the mail login page (see image at left.) They are also buying several key placements on Facebook to get the message out.

I really like Toyota’s Safety landing page. It provides four clear messages with some well-executed online video explaining the company’s commitment and seriousness about responding to their safety perception issue. After months of news stories reporting unattended accelerating vehicles --some true and some alleged hoaxes -- the company needs to show they make safe vehicles.

The question now is will we see a Toyota Quality landing page after their plunging JD Power Quality rating? If one types in the page is redirected to This page does not look like it is ready for prime time as a destination for online media, but that could easily change if Toyota uses the same formula they have for the Safety and Recall landing pages.


1 comment:

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