Toyota Motor Europe has launched a 20 million euro ($26.3 million) pan-European TV, print and online media campaign featuring employees talking about their commitment to quality and safety in a bid to regain consumer trust following its huge recall.
One of Toyota's ads quotes assembly line worker Bridie Tucker saying: “If I suspect a problem, I pull the Andon cord and the whole production line stops immediately, and it does not start again until the issue has been resolved.”
Tucker works on trim assembly at Toyota's factory in Burnaston, central England, which builds the Auris compact and the Avensis mid-sized models.
Tucker adds: “I have pulled it (the Andon cord) thousands of times and it's good because it makes everyone personally responsible for producing the highest quality car.”
The TV version of the ad will be shown on BBC World and CNN in May and appear in business newspapers as part of Toyota's image-rebuilding efforts. Toyota already has started running the ads in Germany and the UK. Similar actions in other key European markets such as France, Italy and Spain start in May and July.
“The campaign was inspired by our own people in manufacturing and in retail across Europe.” Andrea Formica, Toyota's head of sales and marketing in Europe, told Automotive News Europe in a phone interview.
“Their incredible passion, commitment to quality, safety for our customers is what has built our reputation. We want to show this human face of Toyota. The real, authentic Toyota,” he added.
The campaign's tagline is "Your Toyota is my Toyota.” Internally it is called “restore trust,” reflecting the company's objective of reassuring Toyota customers that every employee cares about the quality and safety of every customers vehicle in the same way as if it was their own vehicle.
The ads each feature a Toyota employee describing in their own words how they contribute to quality in their daily work.
20% drop in European sales
Toyota's European sales took a hit following two recall announcements earlier this year that affected more than 1.7 million cars in Europe, including its top-selling Auris, Avensis, Aygo, Yaris and Prius model lines. The Prius was recalled to check the ABS control software; the other cars have been checked for a potentially sticky accelerator pedal.
The world's largest automaker saw its February European new-car sales fall 20 percent to 43,531 compared with the same month in 2009, according to data from the European automakers association, ACEA.
In March, Toyota's European unit sales declined 13.6 percent to 66,257. These two sharp drops followed a 12 percent sales rise in January. In the first quarter, Toyota's European volume was down 7.1 percent to 116,765 units, according to ACEA.
With the help of the campaign, Toyota hopes to contain the dip in its European sales to 9.9 percent for the full year, or about 765,000 units, 84,000 below the company's earlier target of 849,000. In 2009, Toyota's European sales were 877,543.
Globally, Toyota has recalled more than 8.5 million cars to check for issues including a potentially sticky accelerator pedal, the potential entrapment of the accelerator pedal under the floor mat and braking issues with its Prius hybrid model.
A separate recall announced this month included 7,500 Toyota Land Cruiser/Prado and Lexus GX 460 SUVs in Europe and Russia. Toyota will update the stability-control software program in the large SUVs to reduce the risk of vehicles sliding when turning sharply at high speeds.