Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

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Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby Delalyra » Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Articles here, and here.

Contents of the first link:

Spoiler:
Toyota, Saatchi Sued for 'Terror Marketing Campaign'

DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Toyota Motor Sales USA and its ad agency of record, Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, engaged in a bizarre, online "terror marketing campaign" that frightened and harassed thousands of consumers via e-mails, according to a lawsuit filed Sept. 28 in Los Angeles.

The suit claims the online effort, dreamed up by Saatchi to create buzz for the youth-targeted Toyota Matrix, involved a series of e-mails last year to plaintiff Amber Duick from the fictitious Brit Sebastian Bowler, who had moved to the U.S.

Mr. Bowler's digital missives to Ms. Duick indicated he knew her, knew her address and was coming with his pit bull, Trigger, to stay with her to avoid the cops. In his second e-mail to her, Mr. Bowler listed his MySpace page, which is still up (although it says he last logged in June 2008). His video and pictures on MySpace "depict Mr. Bowler as a fanatical English soccer fan who enjoyed drinking alcohol to excess," the suit says. His MySpace page also shows a photo with an arrow pointing to "me" and the caption "my mate took this photo which shows me right before the riot."

One of the nine e-mails to Ms. Duick, the suit alleges, was a bill for $78.92 from a motel for Mr. Bowler's one-night stay there, plus damage to a TV set and picture frame. He had listed her as a reference and told the motel to send her the bill, the complaint says.

"My client was terrified," said her Los Angeles attorney Nicholas Tepper. "She slept with a machete next to her bed and she slept with mace. She could barely sleep or eat normally."

The suit says "she became physically ill" because she was convinced "a disturbed and aggressive" stranger was en route to her house.

Mr. Tepper said laws lag technology. "The technology comes first and morality and guidelines seem to follow." Mr. Tepper said a friend of Ms. Duick's sent her an e-mail for a personality test called "The Other You" that triggered the blitz.

The final e-mail had a link to a video that showed Mr. Bowler driving into a drive-in movie where the film "Imbecile" was playing. The out-of-focus film shows an old man laughing continuously, revealing to Ms. Duick that "she had been punked" and all the e-mails were part of an ad campaign for the Matrix, the suit claims.

A Toyota spokesman said the automaker doesn't comment on pending litigation. Kurt Ritter, chairman of Saatchi's west coast operations, did not return an e-mail or phone call for comment.

The Toyota brand was the sixth largest advertiser in the U.S. last year, based on its measured media spending of $824 million, says TNS Media Intelligence. The automaker said last month it will spend $1 billion on advertising and incentives in the fourth quarter across its Toyota, Scion and Lexus brands.

The suit comes after Toyota Motor announced Sept. 28 it is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA on a plan for a recall of 3.8 million vehicles -- which will be its biggest ever in the U.S. -- due to an issue with floor mats. Toyota issued a safety advisory Wednesday urging owners of five Toyota models and two Lexus models to remove driver-side floor mats which, if not secured properly or if additional non-factory mats are used, can cause uncontrollable acceleration. The carmaker is asking owners not to replace the mat with any other.

A California state trooper and three members of his family died on a highway near San Diego Aug. 28 while driving a 2009 Lexus ES350 on loan from a local Lexus dealer. Preliminary reports from law enforcement officers indicate the cause may have been an all-weather floor mat from a different Lexus model that interfered with the accelerator.

Toyota will notify all impacted owners directly not via any sort of safety ad campaign, a spokesman said. Owners with questions can visit their dealers or call the Toyota brand customer line of 800 331-4331 or for Lexus 800 255-3987.


Pretty much: someone at Toyota thought that a totally great way to market the Matrix would be to harass and terrorize women, as part of a "prank."

What the fuck! I'm pretty sure that making women think they're being stalked won't make them, nor people they're close to, nor... most other human beings who give a shit, want to buy your car. Just no. :|
Last edited by Delalyra on Wed Oct 14, 2009 12:03 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby The Reaper » Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

Once again, marketing failed to check in with the "Good Sense" department before initiating a plan. Tisk.

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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby MrGee » Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:38 pm UTC

Sheesh. You only have to watch Punk'd to know how badly some people take it.

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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby fjafjan » Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:53 pm UTC

yeah this is an hillariously aweful idea. Like, it's possible some really funny things would come out of it, it's also possible some really horrible experiences for some people might come out of it, and hard to have one without the other. So yeah..
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby Dream » Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:00 pm UTC

fjafjan wrote:it's possible some really funny things would come out of it

Only were it not a massive shill for a prominent brand. As it is, the potential non-PC humour that could have been funny elsewhere will necessarily be in terribly bad taste here.
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby fjafjan » Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:58 pm UTC

Dream wrote:
fjafjan wrote:it's possible some really funny things would come out of it

Only were it not a massive shill for a prominent brand. As it is, the potential non-PC humour that could have been funny elsewhere will necessarily be in terribly bad taste here.

I dunno... when watching it I would probably laugh either way, but yeah, the advertising usually finds its way in there and leaves a bad taste.
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby Internetmeme » Wed Oct 14, 2009 12:37 am UTC

I'm totally going to buy a car from a company that makes me think a crazy guy is coming to my house. Really, what were they thinking when they thought of this? But hey, any publicity is good publicity, right?
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby Arancaytar » Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:02 am UTC

Woah. I can imagine worse marketing stunts, but none in reality.

You really have to wonder about advertisers sometimes.
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:11 am UTC

They've finally realized "annoy people into buying our product" is silly, and moved on to... terrorize people until they're scared into buying your product that has nothing to do with what they're now afraid of?

Well I guess you could use a car to escape from a crazy guy...

[late edit] I need to proofread my posts to make sure I don't words out.
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby TheSkyMovesSideways » Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:27 am UTC

Took me a while to figure out just how they thought this would sell cars. The video ad in the 2nd link reveals that the idea of the campaign was for people to request that pranks be pulled on their friends.

So it was probably aimed more at the person requesting the prank than the person being harrassed.

Toyota Matrix ad video wrote:Want to prank a friend? Tell us a little about them. Then pick one of our maniacs to mess with their heads though personalized text, email, calls, videos for 5 straight days, while you sit back and watch it all go down.

Sounds like a great idea, how could that possibly go wrong? :shock: :roll:
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby fyrenwater » Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:51 am UTC

I refuse to believe this happened. I'd rather believe that the entire thing, freaked-out victim and all, was fabricated by Toyota. There's no fucking way people can be that fucking stupid when coming up with advertising. I REFUSE TO BELIEVE IT LALALA NOT LISTENING.
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby Shadowfish » Wed Oct 14, 2009 4:21 pm UTC

TheSkyMovesSideways wrote:Took me a while to figure out just how they thought this would sell cars. The video ad in the 2nd link reveals that the idea of the campaign was for people to request that pranks be pulled on their friends.

So it was probably aimed more at the person requesting the prank than the person being harrassed.

Toyota Matrix ad video wrote:Want to prank a friend? Tell us a little about them. Then pick one of our maniacs to mess with their heads though personalized text, email, calls, videos for 5 straight days, while you sit back and watch it all go down.

Sounds like a great idea, how could that possibly go wrong? :shock: :roll:


I still don't get it. How does this sell cars?
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby ATCG » Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:40 pm UTC

It's not just Toyota that is tone deaf when it comes to new media. PepsiCo has found out how to offend female consumers with an iPhone app.

(And in a related story . . . Now that needs to be turned into an iPhone app.)
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby wst » Wed Oct 14, 2009 6:53 pm UTC

The logic behind this... um... I can't find any.

Delalyra wrote:Pretty much: someone at Toyota thought that a totally great way to market the Matrix would be to harass and terrorize people, as part of a "prank."

What the fuck! I'm pretty sure that making people think they're being stalked won't make them, nor people they're close to, nor... most other human beings who give a shit, want to buy your car. Just no.
Fix'd. Because I sure as fuck would have found that traumatising as well. Being male doesn't exclude us from being freaked out by some really fucked up psychological attacks...
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby Spacemilk » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:11 pm UTC

Yeah where does the article say they just harassed women? It sounds like there has only been one person who has brought forth a civil suit so far, and she happens to be a woman.

On another note, why isn't this a class-action suit since the article talks about "thousands" of consumers?... Or is it a class action suit and I just missed that part of the article?
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby Hawknc » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:29 pm UTC

I really want to come in here and defend the folk I know in the marketing departments of various automotive companies, but...goddamn, they can be stupid sometimes. Saatchi & Saatchi gets the lion's share of the blame here, being the advertising company that came up with the idea, but they pitched it to Toyota and Toyota said yes to it. Advertising companies seem to live in a world very much removed from this one.

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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby BlackSails » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:33 pm UTC

Spacemilk wrote:
On another note, why isn't this a class-action suit since the article talks about "thousands" of consumers?... Or is it a class action suit and I just missed that part of the article?


Because most people have the sense to ignore the internet.

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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby Dauric » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:38 pm UTC

Hawknc wrote: Advertising companies seem to live in a world very much removed from this one.


Unless you've been to a school for graphic design you have no fricking idea. When I was studying computer animation I heard of an instructor in another degree that thought pop-ups were the best thing to happen to the internet, and encouraged his students to use pop-up navigation. It's probably the most egregious example of 'otherworld-brain-syndrome' that comes to mind, but I heard s41t like this on a weekly basis from instructors and fellow students.
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby Internetmeme » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:44 pm UTC

'; DROP DATABASE;-- wrote:They've finally realized "annoy people into buying our product" is silly.


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Has anyone even seen this stuff on the shelves any more?
Spoiler:

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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby Spacemilk » Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:52 pm UTC

BlackSails wrote:
Spacemilk wrote:
On another note, why isn't this a class-action suit since the article talks about "thousands" of consumers?... Or is it a class action suit and I just missed that part of the article?


Because most people have the sense to ignore the internet.

But THINK of the MONEY in a class action suit!!!11!!one

...but seriously, I'm quite shocked no lawyer has pounced on this money-maker.
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby Freakish » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:58 pm UTC

I remember reading about Dexter doing something like this.
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby frezik » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:51 pm UTC

Toyota's Response:

"The person who made this claim specifically opted in, granting her permission to receive campaign emails and other communications from Toyota," he wrote in an e-mail.

"It was definitely something where people had to opt in to receive campaign communications," he said. "Numerous people opted in for this campaign. It was a national campaign."


:shock: Get the shotguns and pitchforks. It's time to round us up some marketing executives.
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby BlackSails » Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:35 pm UTC

Freakish wrote:I remember reading about Dexter doing something like this.


Iirc, it made a fake newscast saying that [INSERT NAME] was murdered. Since you know you havent been murdered, its sort of obviously false.

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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby Internetmeme » Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:22 pm UTC

BlackSails wrote:
Freakish wrote:I remember reading about Dexter doing something like this.


Iirc, it made a fake newscast saying that [INSERT NAME] was murdered. Since you know you havent been murdered, its sort of obviously false.

Unless it was your relative. Then it sucks.


Seriously, what advertising exec is going to even think that harassing your customers will make them buy it?
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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby Chen » Fri Oct 16, 2009 12:16 pm UTC

frezik wrote:Toyota's Response:

"The person who made this claim specifically opted in, granting her permission to receive campaign emails and other communications from Toyota," he wrote in an e-mail.

"It was definitely something where people had to opt in to receive campaign communications," he said. "Numerous people opted in for this campaign. It was a national campaign."


:shock: Get the shotguns and pitchforks. It's time to round us up some marketing executives.


I'm unclear on if the friend of hers KNEW it was going to be a punk'd like thing or if they just forwarded one of those stupid interenet tests and the person then blindly filled it out and clicked the "I accept terms" button that generally accompanies them. Depending on how detailed the disclaimer was that she agreed to, she may end up losing the suit, despite the stupidity of the actual stunt pulled by Toyota. 10 million dollars though seems like an absurd amount of money for 5 days of harassment.

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Re: Toyota fails at advertising Matrix

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:18 am UTC

I suspect it was like most of those "check here if you want to receive emails from $company" things. Which is to say that the box was already checked and also never really indicated what sort of messages those would be. And of course even if it said somewhere exactly what checking the box entailed, it's still a shitty ad campaign.

A stupid excuse to include in the apology, too... (She was asking for it!)
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