Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. is using national TV commercials in an effort to restore confidence in its products and communicate a sense of control over issues surrounding the recall of millions of its vehicles.
Last month the automaker began a series of commercials that address the recall problems. The first commercial, dubbed "Commitment," started out: "For 50 years we've been providing you with safe, reliable quality vehicles. But recently we haven't lived up to the standards you've come to expect from us or that we expect from ourselves."
"Restore," the second national commercial, debuted two weeks ago. It focuses on Toyota's attempt to learn from its mistakes.
It opens with a narrator saying: "History has shown a good company will fix its mistakes, but a great company will learn from them."
That commercial has the right kind of message of humility, honesty and compassion, said Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management in Sierra Madre, Calif., who advises companies in trouble.
But Todd Turner, president of CarConcepts, a consulting firm, said Toyota waited too long to spread its message. He attributed the delay to "Toyota's cultural problem of historically running paranoid, with a constant fear this market is going to close up on them."
Consultant Maryann Keller of Maryann Keller & Associates said the "Restore" commercial "is targeted at owners and gives them solace, but to the rest of the world and nonowners, I'm not sure it will have any impact at all."
Toyota is planning a heavy incentive program this month -- and, according to sources, is considering a new warranty campaign -- to combat mounting consumer concerns about its recall crisis.
"It won't be a fire sale like people thought GM and Chrysler had when they were in trouble," Don Esmond, Toyota Motor Sales senior vice president of automotive operations, told Automotive News last month. "But we will be competitive."
Several sources told Automotive News last month that Toyota was considering extended new-vehicle warranties and providing loyalty cash.
Since Feb. 1, Toyota Motor Sales President Jim Lentz has appeared in a two-minute video on toyota.com in which he apologizes to Toyota customers and announces plans to fix recalled models.