In our research, we came up with four different marketing solutions to assist Toyota in improving its image and to help regain the market share it lost. The first one is to bring back the “Ideas for Good” campaign explained earlier. In order to submit an idea, the innovator must go to the Toyota website. By making more people go to the website, Toyota is increasing brand awareness. The consumer could easily start to research their cars.
The “Ideas for Good” campaign also increases brand perception. Due to the recalls and other problems, the public’s perception of Toyota being a trustworthy carmaker has gone downhill. In general, a “campaign calling for public engagement, to communally work toward a betterment, is a great way to bring the focus back to the positives around the brand” (Crandon). We want to be able to pull the audience’s attention away from the past recalls and to turn it towards Toyota’s continuous innovations to keep the world a safer place.
As part of the campaign, they could include and briefly explain and show authentic us for at least one of the technologies they successfully converted. For example, they used the technology from the Advanced Parking Guidance System to make firefighting safer so they could show real firefighters using the technology. In order to make it a global campaign, Toyota needs to be able to gain a partnership with a similar institution, it does not specifically have to be a university, but in China, they could team up with China CAMC Engineering Co., “an incorporated company registered with the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China” (http://camce.com.cn/en/about/).
With our scoring system, we gave cost a seven due to the technology already being established and both Toyota and their partner would benefit from the advertising. We gave feasibility a seven because it has already been done and very possible to spread and adapt to a global level. Cultural considerations got a ten due to the fact that converting the technologies can benefit all different societies. For brand image, we gave it an eight because it was a previously successful campaign and it shows that Toyota is always innovative and open to different ideas to benefit the world. As for long-term effectiveness, we gave it a five; we don’t see this campaign benefiting the long-term sales and image of Toyota.
The second solution we talked about was celebrity endorsements. We were not interested at having a celebrity as the face of the company, like William Shatner with Priceline, because that has not always been a successful strategy for advertising (Tiger Woods with Nike Golf being an exception) (Johnson). We talked about whether we should have a commercial like John Slattery (from the show Mad Men) does for the Lincoln MKX and MKZ models. However, campaigns similar to this flopped in the past. So we turned a different type of celebrity endorsement, the voice-over
. For example, Morgan Freeman does the voice-overs for Visa and Robert Downey Jr. does the voice-overs for the Nissan Leaf. While they may be expensive, celebrity voice-overs have been considered some of the most popular and effective commercials of the past decade. We decided to use the voice-over for only the Prius because it is one of Toyota’s strongest models, and with the competition beginning to catch up in the environmentally safe car market, Toyota wants to make sure it maintains its 73% global market share.
Should the campaign fail, the Prius would not due to its strong reputation across the globe (Johnson). In choosing the celebrity, we looked at Prius owners, whether or not an audience of all ages would be able to recognize the voice, and if he or she had a good public image. We decided in the US that Owen Wilson would be the best choice.
He is well known by people with ages ranging from 16 to 65, he is known for his charity work, and he is someone who has a very distinct voice. Wilson is also someone who would bring light-heartedness to the campaign without coming off as a complete goofball. In different countries, they would be able to change the spokesperson to someone who fits their culture and values like Wilson fits the US.
As a second part to this campaign, we would include Toyota’s CEO, Akio Toyoda, is a similar tactic to the Sprint commercials with their CEO, Dan Hesse. Toyoda is a certified test driver for the motor company, and in the global campaign, he could be test-driving the Prius while the voice-over occurs (Toyoda). We want the target audience to be able to know who the CEO is and know that he is heavily involved in his company. In scoring this campaign, we gave cost a five out of ten because of the celebrity endorsement contracts being very expensive.
Because celebrity endorsements and implementing the CEO are common strategies across the globe, we gave feasibility a nine. Similar to feasibility, this campaign is easily adaptable to any culture; therefore, cultural considerations got an eight. Since brand image is crucial to our marketing strategy and by having the customers familiar with the CEO and having a well-known celebrity endorsement, we gave image an eight. As for long-term effectiveness, we also gave it an eight because we believe that sales in the long-run will continue to increase.
The third solution was a campaign involving Toyota’s main partnership with Audubon Society. In the campaign they should promote TogetherGreen™ and an annual competition that awards scholarship funds to college students (Strengthening Communities). We thought that this would be one of the easiest to adapt globally because the environment is a global concern and not every person can afford to go to college. As part of the competition, the student should show how they have been helping and innovating environmental safety in their communities.
We thought that the competition should have a set of criteria: how much does it influence the environment of the community and can it be adaptable across the country/globe. It was more difficult to grade this solution. We gave cost a seven because even with awarding scholarships, there is not much money needing to be invested.
Feasibility was awarded a seven because the partnership already exists and they already are known for awarding grants. Environmental issues are global, therefore we gave cultural considerations a seven. Brand image received an eight because it adds even more to Toyota’s environmentally innovative and friendly image. However, long-term effectiveness only earned a five because the competition can become redundant and eventually have no affect on sales.
The final solution we came up with was to just do nothing, continue on the same course they are on. “Toyota says sales [in the US], including its Lexus luxury brand, hit 161,695 units in November, up 17.2% from the year-ago month” (Meier). Even globally their sales are increasing.
Their strategy has been to keep their cars on a long-term sale, which has increased the amount of cars being bought. It is an aggressive move that is challenging competitors (Jackson). We decided that if the sales continue to increase, then we do not need to make a new marketing campaign for them. In grading the last solution, we ranged from high to low due to uncertainties about whether or not it would work.
Cost received a ten out of ten due to Toyota not having to invest money into a new marketing campaign. Next, we gave feasibility another ten because there is nothing to implement. Cultural considerations receive a five because while they might not be insulting anyone’s cultures, Toyota is also not improving it. Brand image also receives a five because there is no campaign to improve it. Lastly, we gave long-term effectiveness a two because of the uncertainty of whether or not Toyota will continue to succeed in the future.