Is Toyota planning a Super Bowl spot?
The huge Toyota recall has TV ad executives wondering how the troubled auto giant will retool its ad campaigns to build trust with consumers and whether that might translate into bigger spending commitments in the future. Our Madison Avenue sources say the car company has firmed up its second quarter upfront buys with CBS but has dropped commitments with other TV partners. Marketers have the next two weeks to decide whether they need to take money out of the market as the second quarter cancellation option deadlines approach. Toyota counts Zenith Media as its main TV buyer and Saatchi & Saatchi as its creative shop.Celeste Migliore, national manager business and field communications for Toyota Motor Sales based in Torrance, California, told ADverse, the company doesn’t comment on its level of ad spending but that, “All of our advertising is under review. We are looking at a range of options on a daily basis.”
At the end of last week, January 31, Toyota dropped its “Portfolio” campaign from the airwaves. The spots touted a range of the company’s car brands along with a message of quality and dependability and were replaced with spots for its hybrid, Prius. On Toyota’s sponsorships, Migliore said, “virtually everything will remain the same,” and that, “We are adding some things to address the current recall.”
While the company is too late for a national Super Bowl ad buy, CBS sold out of airtime earlier this week, Migliore says there are discussions by Toyota’s regional dealerships about buying local Super Bowl spots to target customers having problems (See: Stations Rack Up Super Bowl Ads). The company will need to act quickly to gain consumer trust. Reports out February 2, showed that Toyota’s car sales have already been hit big. January sales were off 16% versus Ford which rose 25% for the month. While no-one wants to be seen to be taking advantage of a tragedy, one TV ad buyer said that auto rivals that can act quickly to take advantage of a changed marketplace would win out. Hyundai for instance was the first auto company to roll out recession-related messaging: its sales were up 24% in January.