Toyota video strikes the right tone but response may be too late, experts say

Crisis comms experts have stated that Toyota's YouTube statement is an effective response to its recall drama, but that perceptions may have already been formed.

'Truly sorry': Toyota's commercial director Jon Williams
'Truly sorry': Toyota's commercial director Jon Williams

Toyota UK's commercial director Jon Williams appeared on the YouTube clip yesterday, saying that he was 'truly sorry' for how the company had treated its customers.

The car giant expects to recall 180,000 cars in Britain ­ – one in nine of the Toyotas on the road – owing to potentially defective accelerator pedals.

In the video clip, Williams stated: 'I drive a Toyota. My family and friends drive Toyotas, and I would not allow my loved ones to drive our cars if I did not believe they were safe.'

Regester Larkin senior consultant Ben Overlander said that Toyota is 'working hard to play catch-up'.

'I think the video is broadly fine,' he said. 'It's book-ended with apologies and it has important content about the recalls. The problem is about timing. By this stage, does anyone care? After days of perceived inactivity by Toyota, people's perceptions were formed without real insight or a view from Toyota.'

Media House International executive chairman Jack Irvine said of the clip: 'I think Toyota has struck the right tone and it couldn't have done it much quicker. However, the whole affair will be really confusing for slightly older drivers who probably didn't realise up until now that there are software issues with brakes.'

Irvine added that the 'bigger PR picture' was the negative impact this would have on green cars in general 'at a time when the climate sceptic movement is really getting a grip'.

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