Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Toyota Fires Another Round Into Its Feet

Just when I think Toyota is going to show its class and quality, there's another "after-shock".

You know that all business crises are like earthquakes -- there's the initial damage and then there are often numerous after-shocks. Some do more damage, some just keep you unnerved and distracted from recovering from the initial quake.

And in Toyota's case, I'm not talking about the Prius brake problem and third major recall that was just announced this week. I'm talking about the Toyota Dealers of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina who just cancelled all their advertising with local ABC affiliated television stations in those states.

ABC claims the advertising agency representing those dealerships in those five states cancelled their contracts in protest of what the agency described as "excessive stories on the Toyota issues." One local ABC station manager said the cancellation was "punishment for the reporting" of his station and the other ABC stations.

173 Toyota dealerships, calling themselves Southeast Toyota, say they will move their advertising dollars to other non-ABC stations.

To the general public, Toyota is Toyota, although the dealerships are individually owned businesses.

There is an old saying: "Don't get into a p____ match with the folks who buy their ink by the barrel or own the big stick at the edge of town." The media will always have the last word. If there was a benefit to advertising on those ABC stations to begin with, are those dealerships not hurting themselves by pulling their ads? If those ads were not useful to the dealers, why were they wasting their money there?

Corporate Toyota cannot be pleased with the 173 dealers who have drawn more negative attention to the company and its troubles. And what do you bet, those local TV stations won't go after Toyota and their dealers even more aggressively.

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