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Toyota’s brake in transmission

April 23, 2014

Toyota acceleration/brake crisis

The background/overview of the crisis

In late 2009 and early 2010, Toyota one of the world’s leading automakers was forced to make a series of recalls. The recalls were due to accelerator and brake problems that were being reported by members of the public and the news media. Some drivers complained that their Toyota vehicles suddenly accelerated and they were unable to stop them even when they took their foot off the gas pedal. Other drivers reported that they put their foot on the brake pedal but this had no effect (Hays, 2011).

After numerous complaints from the public and the media, the US department of transportation became involved with the case. An investigation was launched in order to address the crisis. The investigation discovered that more than 2,000 drivers complained of sudden acceleration between 1999 and 2009 (Hays, 2011). Despite the complaints, Toyota failed to respond. The investigation allegedly linked the acceleration and brake problems to deaths as a result of car crashes. Some news media reported that the total number of deaths was 52. The New York Times reported that according to the traffic safety administration the unintended acceleration was linked to 89 deaths (The New York Times, 2011), while some like the Huffington post reported 32 deaths since the year 2000 (The Huffington Post, 2010).

After criticism from the US government, the media and publics, Toyota was forced to recall more than 8 million vehicles in addition to launching a series of investigations in order to discover the source of the problems. However by the time Toyota decided to respond, there was already extensive damage done to the brand. Lawsuits, settlements, penalties and a drop in the stock value of the company accompanied the damage (Hays, 2011).

Organization’s communication regarding the crisis

During the crisis, Toyota failed to give the media and the public any information regarding the crisis. Some of the news media accused Toyota of stonewalling. In addition to responding slowly to the problem, they failed to give the public and media accurate information about what caused the acceleration and brake problems as well as what was being done in order to protect people from the fault vehicles. According to an article by the Business insider Toyota confused everyone by jumping to conclusions and suggesting different causes in rapid succession (The Business Insider, 2012).

First, the problem was attributed to operator error, which is the most frequent cause of self-acceleration problems in automobiles. As the investigation continued Toyota suggested that the cause of the problem were the floor mats that trapped the gas pedal. Some engineers who worked for the automaker later attributed the problem to sticky gas pedals. This was followed by another unconfirmed suggestion that faulty electronics caused the unintended acceleration (The Business Insider, 2012). The amount of information that came from Toyota were numerous and unconfirmed. The communication with the media and public was faulty and this caused more damage than was intended.

Analysis of crisis response

Was Toyota’s response effective? In my opinion it was a very ineffective and poor crisis management/response.

The timing

Toyota should have begun their investigation of the problem as far back as 1999 when their customers began complaining. But rather than do so, they waited until the problem became a trending topic among news media. If they had responded to the claims made by their publics earlier, they would have been able to contain the problem before it caused damage to their brand. In addition to that, after the problem became a full blown crisis Toyota failed to utilize the “golden hour”, they were slow to release their response, instructing and adjusting information to the public and media and doing so enabled the media and public to speculate which led to more problems.

Lack of information

One of the poor things Toyota did was related to their release of information. Throughout the investigation, Toyota failed to give the public and media concrete and accurate information pertaining to the crisis. They changed their information more than once; rather have a definitive answer for the cause of the problem they kept speculating. The constant speculation and unconfirmed answers further affected their credibility. In the case of a crisis, it is important that the company does not speculate, in addition the company should ensure that they are speaking in one voice and are unified in their stance, which was not the case in Toyota.

Crisis response strategy

The crisis response strategy employed by Toyota was not a good match. At a point during the crisis, Toyota employed the scapegoating method. The blamed the drivers of their vehicles for the problem, they stated that the problem was caused by drivers who stepped on the wrong gear or did not step hard enough. They also used the victimage method in which they assumed the role of victims being attacked by the US government because they were a foreign company. Rather than employed the two methods above, Toyota should have simply issued an apology and made the recalls sooner than later, this would have been less damaging in my opinion.

Poor crisis plan

Overall, it is evident that Toyota either had a very poor crisis plan or no crisis plan at all. The crisis management team of Toyota was not well equipped to handle the problems that the crisis brought. They were slow in their timing, and inefficient in their actions. It is safe to say that they did not plan or anticipate the likelihood of this type of crisis happening to the company, hence when the crisis occurred, Toyota failed to act accordingly and this lead to brand damage, which is still under reconstruction.


J. Hays (July, 2011). Toyota’s sudden accelerator crisis in 2009 AND 2010: Floor mats, deaths and was Toyota unfairly accused? Retrieved from

Kalb, I. (2012, December 28). How Toyota’s crisis management failures added to the billion-dollar settlement. The Business Insider. Retrieved from

Thomas, K. (2010, February 15). Toyota Recall: 34 deaths alleged from gas pedal problem. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from

The New York Times. (2011, February 8). Toyota’s acceleration problems. Retrieved from



Every Good Dog is A Great Dog

February 16, 2012

Purina rolled out the red carpet a few days ago for the Westminster Kennel Club Breed Dog Show.  As the official food sponsor for the show, Purina launched an integrated communications campaign for its new “Pro Plan” brand.   One would think that any IMC efforts involving dogs could be pointless, but the numbers don’t lie, apparently the Westminster Dog show is a coveted event and it attracts a LOT of dog lovers.   Purina took advantage of this televised event (USA Network) to bombard dog lovers with the Pro Plan campaign.  They’ve named this campaign “Inside Every Good Dog is a Great Dog.” What better platform to roll out this campaign than at the Westminster Kennel Club Breed Dog Show, where dog lovers tune in to indulge in their love for dogs. While their own dogs might not be up the same standards as the competing dogs, Purina comes to the rescue, because “inside every good dog is a great dog.”

First up in the campaign is the PRO PLAN website. Both mobile and desktop version feature heavy content and lots of dog lover interactivity.  As any good website, the Pro Plan site is well connected to the social media side of the campaign. Several links featuring user- generated content from its social media sites take a big chunk of space on the PRO Plan website.  However, he crème of the crop and highlight of the website is Pro Plan app “The Great Dogs.” This app is used all across the campaign where user interactivity is allowed, e.g. Facebook, App Store, ect.  The app is a one stop shop interactive dog “encyclopedia.” You can browse through tons of different breed profiles and find your own dog.  This app will reveal unique secrets and interests about your dog’s breed; including new tricks specific for your own dog.  I searched for Cocker Spaniel and it said: “The Cocker is known for her gentle bite in retrieving game and for her tender, intuitive heart. She’s got an innate ability to sense what you’re feeling- especially when you need a friend.” This app allows users to share their new found dog content on their Facebook wall.  It also provides a link to “learn more about”, which takes you to American Kennel Club website.

While in Facebook, another feature providing user- generated content is Pro Plan “Great Video.” It’s another interactive app which encourages user to “Put your dog in our video.”   Following the “Inside Every Good Dog is a Great Dog. “ Purina is encouraging customers to “Put yours into the Pro Plan® “Great” commercial, and you’ll see what we mean. Just choose a few great pictures of your dog, frame up the best parts, and press play.”  After you upload a few pictures of your dog, you submit them and a video is created, which is a modified version of the YouTube “Inside Every Good Dog is a Great Dog.” Commercial, that now includes pictures of your dog.

The original Pro plan commercial aired several times during the televised Westminster Dog Show. As the show’s official sponsor, Purina took advantage to intertwine their campaign into the commercial to attract users to the interactive social media side of the campaign.  This commercial is also available in “The Purina Network” YouTube channel.  The Purina Network is another animal lover hub from Purina. It’s described as “The Purina Network
Welcome to the Purina Network, the place for passionate pet owners on the web. Whether you need answers about your dog or cat, or just want to have a laugh, The Purina Network has the videos and shows that you’re looking for about the animals you love.”  Once again, at the moment the Pro Plan  “”Inside Every Good Dog is a Great Dog“ campaign is the main star of the platform.

Last but not least, Purina did some outdoor advertising for the campaign in NYC, where the Westminster show took place in Madison Square Garden.  Outdoor advertising featured bus banners and a few TV spots in Times Square.

Overall this is an effective IMC campaign, the subject might not appeal to all, but the facts are undeniable.  Purina did a great job identifying the message and carrying across all the different platforms of IMC.  It is clear they’ve made this campaign by the book and smartly capitalized on the Westminster Dog show to catapult their campaign.


Sprint: Ready to buy an iPhone with Fast Unlimited data? Think Again….

October 29, 2011

Sprint, the nation’s third largest network, is now trying to stay ahead of the game as customer growth improved ahead of the company getting the Apple iPhone 4S.  Their catch? Offering an unlimited data plan at blazing speed.  This campaign move has been on the move for a few months now. They’ve slowly started introducing their new 4G network, which claims to achieve double the 3G speeds. The average 4G download speed is 3 – 6 Mbps.

The company has attempted to use  their YouTube channel  to showcase the move into 4G, with a series of videos showcasing the new service in big markets like NY and L.A. They have named the video series “Wiring Up 4G” and they try show how this new service work in major markets.

So far this has been a pretty succesful move for Sprint, since Verizon and AT&T no longer offer unlimited data plans. This makes the yellow giant stand out in the new 4G and now the iPhone market, which brings us to an important dilemma.

 The iPhone 4S has been out for just over a week and there is already A LOT of customers complaining about the networks slow data speeds.  It seems to be a nationwide problem that has caused wide-spread pandemonium. The carrier’s support forums have been filled with complaints of slow data speeds, leading some customers to consider returning the device immediately.  In fact, there is over  a 70-plus page threat on iPhone 4S data dilemmas.

There are over 400+ articles and blogs circulating around the internet, detailing all the of Sprint’s data woes.  It has been chaos unleashed for the company. This is completely crushing their entire campaign of blazing unlimited 4G data.

Sprint is not taking all this bashing this sitting down. They have step up to the plate and smartly utilized their  social networks and blogs to address the issue and get the ball rolling. They recently released this statement across various media platforms:

“Overall, iPhone performance on the Sprint network is consistent with our expectations and the rest of our high-end portfolio. Sprint also did bench-marking of Sprint’s iPhone against competitor’s iPhones and the testing showed little to no performance difference. We are seeing a very low return rate for this device but we are watching the reports of speed issues very closely. We do see opportunities to optimize performance, specifically in high network capacity areas. We see this as typical optimization work and do not have any specific area of concern. Sprint is committed to providing the best possible experience for our customers. We are listening to our customers and working closely with our partners at Apple to ensure optimal performance of iPhone devices on our network.”


Sprint has been utilizing Twitter to communicate with customers and keeping the panic down. They are also constantly posting new information and articles about the iPhone and releasing  iPhone videos on YouTube.

Overall, Sprint has been building their “the best unlimited data plan” campaign for a while now and establishing themselves as a leader provider in data services. They have done a great job and their “Everything Data Plan” commercial has proven been succesful.

Do you think this iPhone fiasco will hurt the company?

Bring Your Bibs Because The McRib Is Back!

October 26, 2011

McDonald’s  brings a comeback with this boneless pork patty sandwich, dressed in silvered onions, pickles and barbecue sauce. It is here for a limited time only, ending November 14. This sandwich is number one in the lead for this week’s Google Trends and has been such a promotional success since its debut in 1981.

Even though the company struggled with sales in the beginning and removed the item in 1985 due to pork not being eaten in the U.S. as often as meat or chicken. It still holds a reputable reputation.

After several years McDonald’s brought back the sandwich nationally in 1994 as a promotional item, because of the shape of the patty looking like a slab of ribs, which went together with the release of The Flintstones Movie, turning this sandwich into an icon.

Now that the McRib is back this fall for just a few weeks. What will the company use other than a featured hit movie to draw there targeted audience’s attention?  How will they market, PR or advertise to promote this product?

The company has evolved into what society is driven to today and that is social media. McDonald’s is far from being out of the loop. The McRib now has its own Facebook page. This company is so initiative with their ideas, they lure you in to “like” there page first, then leading you to play their virtual McRib game, helping those McRib lovers to use their McRib locator, which guides you to all the Mc Donald’s restaurants that hold this particular item.

This strategy draws new and old fanatics to check out what they’ve created and their technique is whimsical and fresh. These McRib fans are so in tuned to not just the sandwich but to what others have to say about it, they turn the McRib page into Facebook groups such as “McRib Off”.

Including McRib Twitter pages with tweets saying that “The McRib is the Justin Bieber of Sandwiches” to “Don’t worry we use the term “meat” very loosely around here.” Whether comments in social media are negative or not, the McRib is still the popular kid in the crowd.

Watch this video of these McRib fanatics and see how they helped publicize McDonald’s McRib:

Since it is popular, why not offer it all the time? I think McDonald’s likes to add fuel to seek customer’s enthusiasm and enjoy viewing the McRib craze explode, without adding enough effort. McDonald’s U.S. marketing director Marta Fearon told USA Today, that “Bringing it back every so often adds to the excitement.”

Although the McRib has a cult of McRib Lovers. The question most of us want to know, lies if the McRib is really meat? Let me end that to your imagination.


October 25, 2011

What automobile companies do you think of when words like art, music, style, and culture come up? If no particular brand comes to mind, rest assured there is a South Korean company trying to change your perception. I was engaging in the typical millennial routine of checking my email, Facebook, Twitter, and surfing the net. It was towards the end of the routine that I came across a digital ad on Juxtapoz. It was an interactive banner ad that offered links to videos of a new vehicle, the Veloster, Hyundai has to offer. At first glance the advertisement may not seem exciting, but wait there’s more…

A scroll over the advertisement activates a pops up layer on top of the current page and forces the user to interact. It is somewhat intrusive and may evoke some individuals to have a negative reaction to the ad. I have included a screen shot to better detail how the layer appears.

I have seen multiple advertisements on the Juxtapoz website that utilize the same “pop up layer” technique and this is the first time I did not have the feeling of being pushed. I directly correlate that to the interesting content Hyundai had to offer. This new technique is positive but only if you have relevant and interesting content to back up the products offered. A click on the ad takes you directly to the Hyundai Veloster YouTube site where even more interactive content is available to the user.

The Veloster YouTube page is very inviting and creates a sense of interest into what features the product has to offer. I am a firm believer that connecting product to the new emerging market of millennials is a great strategy for marketing companies to follow. The page also provides links to their respective Facebook, Twitter, Hyundai YouTube channel and the Hyundai company website. This is a great utilization of digital media by making sure the user has quick and easy access to all of the media outlets Hyundai has to offer. This is an important detail for marketing companies to be aware of with the fast work pace of today’s typical internet/digital user. They are also incorporating culture and music into their brand position. The video below is an exciting trailer for a documentary, “ReGeneration”, that Hyundai is sponsoring. The Veloster is being molded into much more than just a new car but a new lifestyle that Hyundai can offer its drivers.

Overall in my opinion I believe the campaign to be a new and exciting breathe of fresh air in the otherwise boring and stagnant world of automobile advertising. The consumer has a sense of engagement and is given the opportunity to participate with the product before the purchase is even made. My only concern is the “plainliness” of the banner ad at the initial point of interaction. Good job Hyundai, Postal gives you the thumbs up and I will surely be following the progress of your ReGeneration documentary.

Bud Light’s Facebook Paradise

October 25, 2011






Bud Light is taking over you and your buds Facebook feeds and pages. In the last Bud Light Social Media campaign you could register on Facebook for the Port Paradise 4 Contest. Bud Light would put the application on the page after registration but as you finished you could go back and realize the footprints they left on the page. So the takeover starts whenever you saw an ad for it on television, on a website, on packaging or most likely on someone else’s Facebook.

First you must like Bud Light’s Fan Page before being able to even start registration. Then you register and it left an application in your tabs. It also asks who you would want to go with you or become your “shipmates” so you can send out Facebook invites that place is on those peoples Facebook Pages. So one person could register and now you have all of those persons Facebook friends seeing these images on news feeds and walls.

Bud Light was making themselves very visible to anyone who had Facebook and drank Bud Light or would like to go on this cruise. They would swarm your Facebook feed and before you knew it you were registered.

It was a good social media campaign because it was attractive to a large part of the Facebook demographic.  Bud Light also did a great job of not spamming too much so it wouldn’t get deleted off my Facebook like most other company’s apps.  But the relevance they created on Facebook and the buzz between friends was there which made it a very effective campaign. Many of my friends did register once they received my link just as I first received it. So even though I did not win the all-inclusive cruise and private concert nor did my friends a Grand Prize was given to Bud Light by being able to advertise all over our Facebook walls.



Do you Kotex?

October 25, 2011

I honestly love the enthusiasm of this girl in the commercial, JUST KIDDING. First time I saw this commercial I thought to myself “are you kidding me?” The reason being that I know that a woman’s period is not the best part of the month. But I honestly do not need a “captain obvious” to debrief other commercials for me.

I get that “our generation” is a very chill, laid back, “I don’t care” kind of people but I would not even consider buying this product because I feel like this commercial is offensive.  WE all know that women get mood swings when they are on their period but I do not need a commercial showing us being extra bitter about the mother natures gift to us. Their product has always been my preference over any other brand on the market but this particular product I would not even consider buying. The way it is advertised is too sarcastic, almost insulting. It is very “down to earth” commercial and it is trying to relate to its publics, but it this chick does not relate to me.

Kotex usually has better commercials in palce that show the “average girl” in a relatable situation that we (women) might encounter in our everyday life. Just because a women is on her menstrual cycle does not mean that our life stops. Our life keeps going and our plans to go to the pool, hang out with friends, etc. does not change. I understand that the “emo” girl look is in but not all girls feel like we should be mocked about our monthly friend like she does.