We\'re fans of Toyotas, for the most part, but who invents their advertising?
|   Saturday, November 24, 2012
Unfortunately, a vehicle that has had a long history of reliability and durability has been going through its share of beatings by federal regulators as they have recalled – I think the with the latest recall that since 2008 they've recalled about 20 million for various problems:

Unintended acceleration
Unintended carpet stuffing under the accelerator
Issues with various engine and window pieces

Unfortunately, many of those problems led to deaths and injuries, including listening to the last horrific minutes of a California highway patrolman as he tries everything he can think of to slow his Avalon down.
It just keeps accelerating until it drives right off the road and takes much of the patrolman's family with it. This was one of the problems for which Toshiro Toyoda, president and CEO of the world's number one automaker stood in front of a group of automotive journalists like yours truly and for which he apologized.

He claimed the fix would be quick in coming. Well, maybe it has been and maybe it hasn't, however, today's recall involves about 2 million Camry and Corolla models over the course of the last decade and a problem with a relay in the window wiring that, if it overheats, could cause a fire which could result in the door catching fire and so on. It isn't a pretty picture. So, how does Toyota's "crack PR machine (???)" respond? They respond with a series of some of the most inane ads that it has been our misfortune to see over the last several years.

Today's ads are a far cry from the ads that touted the reliability and roadability of the Corolla and Camry that said to the effect: "since (1985 or 1990 or 1995) 85 or 90 percent of all Corollas and Camrys built are still on the road. That's quite some statistic and attests to the fact that Toyota used to know how to build reliable vehicles (we suspect they are still reliable and Toyota has, to its credit, owned up to and taken responsibility for fixing all problems), but, the new crop of ads that is meant to point out just how good the new Toyotas are just totally inane.

Now, we don't doubt that the couple in the first ad are very happily married and very happy with their choice of the Corolla SR1 they purchased, but, did they have to make a young woman, who is obviously a nice person, look like an idiot when she said the car felt "grounded to the ground."

Just what does that even mean? What would have happened if she had said, if felt "grounded to the sidewalk?" Or how about, it felt "grounded to the trees!" That would have been a feat if it were.

We suspect that like the test cars we have driven the person in the commercial simply means that through turns and corners the Corolla handles things with aplomb, taking a straight line through a turn or corner with very little body roll or lean and with lots of comfort. That's what we found the last time we drove one as we also found one of the most ergonomically correct (it was people friendly) vehicles on the road with plenty of support from the seats, excellent response from the 1.6-liter-class four and the like. It was easy to find a comfortable driving position behind the steering wheel in the driver's seat and the display and controls were easy to access and use.

But, "grounded to the ground," come one guys, that was just not cool, however, since we know that most of the new crop of PR people at Toyota have likely been graduates of the Edna St. Vincent Millay school of writing and public relations because they all passed the tests they found online that said they were good candidates for the school and they forked over their hard-earned cash to make it in the wonderful world of PR and advertising, we can't begrudge them the fact that they should really plan to keep their day jobs at Kohl's or Wal-Mart because we don't think their future is long for this business (look at the Buick Cerrano ad and note the difference; it's professional, the Toyota looks like it was shot with the latest in last year's technology).

We wish we were kidding, but we're not. In the same commercial, the husband said such memorable lines as "guys are attracted by the wheels and sleek lines." Well, with the number of wheel and tire options available, it's a given that there's something out there for every buyer and that not every man or young man who buys a Corolla is motivated by the wheels and tires (I hope the husband does know the wheel is the center metal thingie with the rubber tire running around it). And, the comment about lines just stands for itself.

At least, the newer ad for the Camry starring a young African-American woman is a lot more real and honest. She's in it for the features and she admits it.

Frankly, Toyota needs to get its advertising back on course and stop using inanities like "grounded to the ground!" A Corolla can't be "grounded to the air" can it?

So, you just have to wonder why on earth Toyota would hire a company to design and shoot such advertising campaigns. All we can come up with is that someone owed someone something or someone's brother-in-law needed the work. The bottom line is we'll never know, but it is time for them to be banished to the "Land of the Lost."
PHOTO GALLERY
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