Saatchis tells crisis-ridden Toyota to stop advertising

Ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi has stepped into Toyota’s PR crisis with the agency’s global chairman using a visit to the region to urge its client to suspend its advertising.  

In an interview published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, Bob Seebert – on a book promotion tour – told Julian Lee that he urged silence from the brand until it has a better plan to fix its safety problems:

”Our stance with them is that in this environment it doesn’t make any sense to do any advertising. In effect, they are sitting back thinking about how they are going to fix cars, and once it is in place [we’ll think about] how we can help relaunch their position.”

Toyota’s local spokesman was not answering his phone this morning.

However, in the SMH article, a spokesman for Toyota America appears to contradict the Saatchis boss, saying: “Absolutely not. We continue to advertise in all major media.”

Toyota has been at the centre of an escalating global PR crisis involving safety issues for its cars. Although the safety problems in Australia have been relatively minor, the US story moved the issue up the local agenda.

It was unclear from the article whether Seebert’s advice was intended locally or globally. Earlier this month Toyota told Mumbrella that it was  still formulating a marketing strategy to deal with the issue.

Saatchi & Saatchi is one of several agencies on Toyota’s roster. The agency gained unwelcome worldwide publicity for the car giant late last year when a film making competition it organised went wrong. Saatchi & Saatchi’s Clever Film Competition chose as a winner a pastiche ad which was widely viewed as offensive.


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