Don't mess with Fresno. Toyota learned that lesson this month when a Prius TV commercial poked fun at the California city. After city and state officials howled, Toyota scurried to get the spot changed.
An Atlanta ad agency, 22squared, created the spot for Toyota dealers in Southeast states. When everyone drives alternate-fuel vehicles such as the Prius, the commercial said, "gas stations will become nothing more than low-budget tourist stops. Like ghost towns ... or Fresno."
En garde. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the spot "gratuitously insults the city." And Toyota began to scramble.
Irv Miller, Toyota's PR vice president, apologized to "the great city of Fresno." Miller said that the spot had been edited to remove the Fresno reference, and that Toyota would monitor local advertising more closely.
But some Fresno folks aren't satisfied. City Council member Henry Perea told the Fresno Bee he would forgive the automaker "if they locate a Prius factory here."