Whipping the Proverbial Whipping Boy

By Eric Seidel, CEO
The Media Trainers, LLC

Don’t like the message? Punish the messenger. It may feel good, but the sense of relief is short-lived. In times of crisis, blame-shifting rarely pays off; yet, it keeps happening.

Tammy Darvish owns four Toyota dealerships and one Lexus dealership. Obviously, she has a lot riding on how Toyota has been mis-handling it cascading series of crises.

“I just think the media has sort of sensationalized something that’s pretty natural in the manufacturing business,” she says.

In other words, are we supposed to go into any new or used car purchase, or lease, with the assumption mechanical problems, and even a recall, are inevitable?

Or, “Is it natural to recall 8.5 million vehicles? Is it natural to recall or investigate 15 of 20 models?” Those questions posed by a clearly surprised Neil Cavuto during an interview on Fox News Channel’s Your World.

Her response: “…just in the Detroit 3 (that, of course, being GM, Ford and Chrysler), there were 37 recalls just in the last 12 months…” So, in other words, if you think we’ve got some problems, check out our competition.

Ms. Darvish did not do the Toyota Co. any favors with this interview. While she may have intended to limit damage, she might have just made things worse. Instead of confronting the issues and facts honestly, Darvish’s appearance was a feeble attempt at deflection and an effort to make what seems extraordinary ordinary. She may have thought she was providing perspective, but in reality she leaves a lasting impression that you should buy, or lease, a car at your own risk.

One more point, and it comes from an expert in customer loyalty marketing, rDialogue. In a blog post directed at business organizations and their management, it appears that Toyota has missed a critical element in their handling of this growing crisis: reaching out directly to their customers.

One thought on “Whipping the Proverbial Whipping Boy

  1. Great observation. She could have pulled off a “mea culpa” and focused on what they are doing to fix it and why it won’t happen again…and then casually mentioned the number of recalls in the pass with competitors. Bob

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