2.08.2010

Toyota Dealers Pull Ads From ABC Affiliates



(Disclosure: My full-time job is with an ABC television affiliate not affected by the story below. If the target had been CBS, NBC, FOX or any other network, group or individual station, this post would still be here, just with different network or station call letters)

Just as the news began to turn good for Toyota ( the resumption of sales of models sidelined since the gas pedal recall was announced, the company's cooperation with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on his Prius, six North  American plants getting back to work building Toyotas for sale), Southeast Toyota, a group representing 173 Toyota dealers in five southeastern states, has pulled its advertising from ABC television affiliates in that region.

At issue, investigative reporter Brian Ross' coverage of Toyota's recalls and complaints from Toyota owners and consumer safety advocates.

What's especially troubling is that Southeast Toyota gives its reason as "excessive stories on the Toyota issues".

Note that they didn't say inaccurate, biased, false, or misleading stories. Just that there were too many of them. 

At a time when transparency and openness are the only road out of this mess for Toyota, that's exactly the wrong approach. Hopefully Toyota Motor Sales (Toyota's North American sales and distribution arm) is already explaining to Southeast Toyota, which says its dealers sell 20 percent of all Toyotas sold in the U.S., that this is the least helpful thing they could do.

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