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Toyota ends ad campaign that sold safety

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Toyota ends ad campaign that sold safety

Kathy Jackson

Automotive News -- February 8, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

LOS ANGELES -- With its safety recalls in the news, Toyota has killed an ad campaign that touted the brand's core quality, reliability and safety values.

The campaign, known as Portfolio, has been replaced with spots for the Toyota Prius, says spokeswoman Celeste Migliore.

The company will address the recalls in large national newspapers. She says Toyota will continue to advertise vehicles on TV and other media.

Toyota will remain a major advertiser this month during the Winter Olympics, when it will introduce its redesigned Sienna minivan to the public.

"We pulled Portfolio because some aspects dealt with safety," Migliore said. "It was due to end soon anyway."

The campaign, which was launched in September, highlighted six themes: dependability, quality, reliability, efficiency, safety and innovation. Six 15-second TV spots and three 30-second spots have been broadcast. The commercials focus on families, primarily showing how Toyota is a fixture in their lives.

Toyota's safety record has been sullied by the recall of millions of its vehicles for problems linked to unintended acceleration. And the U.S. government said last week that it will investigate possible braking issues with the Prius.

"Week after week, Toyota is on the defensive," says Ted Marzilli, managing director of BrandIndex Service, a New York market research firm. "It is way too soon to write the brand off, but I don't know when they'll get in recovery mode. Many customers are angry."

The Sienna campaign will be Toyota's first this year. The company will spend an estimated $150 million marketing the Sienna, which goes on sale this month.

"You can continue the Sienna ads, but Toyota should address its safety issue, too, since this is a family vehicle," says Peter Sorgenfrei, a former Toyota market researcher and founder of market research firm Sorgenfrei in New York.

"Consumers will see the ad, see that Toyota has a new minivan," Sorgenfrei says. "But the conversation in the living room will turn to 'isn't that them with the major recall?' and they may think twice before taking a test drive."

He suggests that Toyota bring back ads that tackle the safety issue.

Sorgenfrei said Toyota needs "something that addresses their long-standing safety record but also admits that they recently made some mistakes."

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100208/RETAIL03/302089941/1018#ixzz0exTCZPMZ

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