Toyota calls global inquiry to weigh up image damage after recalls

Toyota is set to review how perceptions of the company have changed in the wake of the recall crisis that has battered the brand's reputation for safety and reliability.

Stalled reputation: eight million Toyota cars recalled
Stalled reputation: eight million Toyota cars recalled

Toyota Europe corporate affairs GM Colin Hensley told PRWeek of the review, after it emerged that senior European officials from the car maker recently met with PR agency executives in Paris.

'The first action will be a comprehensive global review of the situation and the nature of the change in the perceptions of our stakeholders,' said Hensley.

It is understood that senior Toyota executives met with MS&L Group late last month.

Hensley declined to comment on the meeting, but it is understood the PR agency presented a range of crisis response strategies. There is no indication Toyota will act on the suggestions.

'With respect to the details of our comms activities, as you can imagine, there will be a wide range of actions considered,' said Hensley.

Toyota, which has recalled more than eight million cars, has already set up a new office in Japan to improve information disclosure, according to reports from that country.

The head of the division, Osamu Nagata, reports directly to Toyota global president Akio Toyoda, and will co-ordinate comms to consumers, suppliers, dealers, shareholders, media and government.

The company has also launched a branded channel on TweetMeme called 'Toyota Conversations' to promote transparency and help repair its image. The site features news tweets, news stories and videos about Toyota.

Toyota does not retain a global PR agency. Its Japanese HQ handles comms through its longstanding ad agency Dentsu.

A large part of Toyota's global advertising account is also handled by MS&L Group's sister agency Saatchi & Saatchi.

Toyota's reputation

According to PRWeek's Reputation Survey on 26 February:

41 per cent of the UK public would be put off buying a Toyota car in the future

40 per cent said their confidence in Toyota had been dented by the car maker's problems

40 per cent believed that Toyota had handled the situation well

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