American "Overreaction" To Recall Is Winning Toyota Sympathy At Home

Apparently the Stateside uproar over the recall of 8 million Toyotas — and worries that the company may be attempting to conceal potential defects — has had the inverse effect in the car company’s homeland. According to a new report, the Japanese public thinks America is overreacting to the situation.

“When Japanese see this excessive reaction happening in the U.S., they feel pity for Toyota,” explains Takashi Takeda of advertising biggie DDB Worldwide. “Recalls always happen. Trust for Toyota is huge in this market and was not built overnight.”

Here in the states, most Toyota commercials are nothing more than 30-second apologias for the recall. But in Japan, it’s been a much more don’t-ask-don’t-tell approach.

“It’s an example of cultures colliding. The average consumer in Japan is not reacting in the same way and marketing professionals here are a bit daunted by the proactive role that America’s government has had,” said Chris Beaumont, a Tokyo-based branding consultant and a marketing professor at Tokyo University.

“People here are surprised at how visible the recall has been and wonder, ‘If Toyota is hurt, is Japan Inc. hurt?'” Mr. Beaumont said. “To what extent will Japan be affected adversely rather than just Toyota?”

It’s basically just the Japanese version of the old bromide, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”

“There is concern that if Toyota’s problems do not improve, the recovery pace of Japan’s economy will slow down, too,” Mr. Takeda said. “We see U.S. nationalism at work.”

U.S. ‘Overreaction’ Stirs Empathy for Toyota at Home [Ad Age]