Sunday, May 19, 2013

Toyota dealerships have an image problem. Can new ads help?

Toyota is currently running a series of dealership-focused television ads in our part of the country (I suspect the campaign is national, as the ads have high production value). The ads always show target consumers (usually families with young kids, or a college-aged child) walking into the dealership, where they go to a reception counter that features a seated woman (the same lady shown in the clip below). The customer initiates the conversation. The employee helpfully shows the car that's the perfect match.

It seems as if Toyota is trying to portray dealerships and their employees as being harmless and passive. The customer is in control (starting the conversation, standing over the dealership employee). The employee is a woman, and does not use high-pressure sales tactics, hover over potential customers, etc.

I believe Toyota (and perhaps the dealerships themselves) understand they have an image problem, and the ads are designed to fight this. The question is: Is it enough? The bad tactics over the years have made most people wary of dealerships. It's not clear if a bunch of new TV spots can make much of a difference.

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