The automaker has some serious brand issues that are only being exacerbated by the viral nature of the internet. There are already facebook groups, twitter groups, youtube videos of god-knows-what.
I was reading recently about the whole situation and it was pretty obvious that once the dust settled down a bit, Toyota was going to hire a stud PR agency to run a huge online advertising campaign aimed at combating the negative media.
Well this morning I happened across one and it just made me laugh...mainly due to the "Hey, you knew this was coming--now let's see how cliche it is?" factor. http://www.youtube.com/toyotastories#p/a/u/2/7ojzQUiuInE
Now, I must say--for a non-Toyota owner I am a pretty huge fan of the company. They have done some really great things in the past and their highly sustainable organizational models (specifically TPS and Lean) are things I've actually used on some of my work in the past.
It's a shame so many people forget what the company has done. I suggest over the next few months you watch how this plays out and how they handle it--chances are they'll manage nicely. They're already working to drive "traffic" (sorry) to their website so that they can put their own spin on things http://www.toyota.com/in-the-news/. Which is smart.
I'm curious to see the huge campaign that's to be seen online and on TV. I'm also interested to see now what the competition is going to do in the next month as Toyota has left the window open...with Ford and GM in particular.
I can say though that it's a good time to be a marketing/PR consultant for the auto industry right now... http://www.autoblog.com/2010/02/03/nhtsa-reportedly-investigating-chevrolet-cobalt-power-steering-f/