AMID the halfpipes, triple axels and doubled triple lutzes of the Vancouver Games, viewers are being treated to quite a feat: a corporate bend-over-backward.
The television coverage of the Winter Olympics is being sponsored by a dozen automotive brands, among them Toyota, which is confronting unprecedented problems that have led the Toyota Motor Company to recall more than eight million vehicles worldwide.
A commercial offering a companywide mea culpa from Toyota, which appeared during the opening ceremony last Friday, has been followed by spots about sales at local dealerships and even the start of a humorous campaign for the Sienna minivan.
“Recently, our company hasn’t been living up to the standards that you’ve come to expect from us or that we expect from ourselves,” an announcer intoned during the apology, going on to describe steps that were intended “to restore your faith in our company.”
The sales spots have also touched on the difficulties confronting the Toyota brand. “Your Toyota dealers appreciate the support a lot of folks have given them recently,” an announcer said, “and these deals” — among them, zero percent financing for 60 months on Camry and Corolla models — “are their way of saying thanks.”...
The most recent results of the BrandIndex survey of daily consumer perceptions conducted by YouGov, a market research company, gave Toyota a score of minus 51.6. By comparison, the second lowest score for an automotive brand, Hummer, was minus 8.03. (BrandIndex scores can range from 100 to minus 100.)
The minus 51.6 on Wednesday represented a steep fall from the minus 42.1 on Friday and minus 14.7 on Feb. 5; as recently as Jan. 13, Toyota had a score of 28.8.