Toyota President Apologizes for TV Commercial
A short “Welcome Home” commercial from Toyota earlier this year implying that the nation’s homes represent poor quality resulted in the following exchange of letters.
January 27, 2010
Mr. James E. Lentz
President and Chief Operating Officer
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
19001 S. Western Ave
Torrance, CA 90501
Dear Mr. Lentz:
When I saw your “Welcome Home” commercial while watching the NFL playoffs, I was both disturbed by your gross slapstick caricature of the home building industry, and troubled by the insinuation.
Although the typical American home building firm is small and delivers perhaps a dozen homes to the market in a good year under conditions that are far more trying and variable than those in your modern factories, it seems clear that a family buying a home from one of them has a far greater assurance of quality than a recent Toyota customer.
When building a product as complex as a home, it may not be possible to be absolutely perfect, but we are constantly trying. In our competitive business, quality and customer satisfaction are essential for success. The disastrous building site you compare with the allegedly smooth performance of your automobiles would be shut down in a matter of hours for all its apparent safety violations. This cheap shot portrays a disturbing level of insensitivity, and lack of knowledge that is personally offensive to me and home builders across the country.
You also may not have considered that home builders are large purchasers of Toyota trucks. After seeing your ad, many of our members called me to voice their displeasure. I suspect they may be looking for alternatives to Toyota the next time they are in the market for a new vehicle.
The other night at the end of a fortifying meal at my local Chinese restaurant, I opened a fortune cookie that said, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.” Those are good words of advice, with wide application. They seem particularly pertinent given today’s headlines announcing Toyota’s recalls.
Gerald M. Howard
NAHB Chief Executive Officer
March 2, 2010
Gerald M. Howard
Chief Executive Officer
National Association of Home Builders
1201 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
Dear Mr. Howard:
Thank you for taking the time to express your concern with our “Welcome Home” commercial.
I’d like to reassure you that the portrayal of a home under construction was exaggerated for comedic effect and was not intended to portray a typical experience with the home building industry. Like many companies, we sometimes deploy satire in our ads to keep viewers engaged.
That said, I and the marketing executives at Toyota have great respect for home builders and for the complexity of your product, which in many ways mirrors the complexity of our vehicles.
For 50 years, Americans have trusted Toyota to provide vehicles that are among the safest, most reliable on the road. We recognize that of late we have not lived up to the high standards our customers expect from us. We take our commitment to the public very seriously and are working hard to ensure Toyota sets an even higher standard for vehicle safety and reliability.
We do consider home builders very important customers for Toyota. In fact, we spoke to many in the homebuilding industry in designing our Tundra full-sized pickup to ensure the truck meets their needs. Their feedback was, and continues to be, very valuable to us.
Toyota harbors no ill feelings towards the home building industry and I hope you will accept my sincere apologies. We understand you strive for quality just as we do.