A RE-BRANDING CAMPAIGN: Toyota’s Quest to be viewed as an American Company

A directed research project

Submitted to

THE FACULTY OF THE PUBLIC COMMUNICATION GRADUATE PROGRAM SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION AMERICAN UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON, D.C.

In Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Arts

By

Kristin B. Lowery May 2007

Acknowledgements I would like to thank my husband Mathew, for enduring the thesis process with me, and for giving me constant love and support. I would also like to thank my parents for always believing in me and giving me every opportunity to pursue my dreams. Finally, this thesis would not have been possible without Dr. Zaharna’s endless encouragement, guidance and fabulous editing skills.

Table of Contents Chapter I: Introduction Objectives ..............................................................................................................................2 Study Significance .................................................................................................................2 Background ............................................................................................................................2 Study Limitations...................................................................................................................4 Study Overview .....................................................................................................................5 Chapter II: Literature Review Defining Branding .................................................................................................................6 Brand Equity ..........................................................................................................................7 Re-branding............................................................................................................................8 Re-branding Techniques ........................................................................................................9 Re-branding for Success ........................................................................................................11 Cases of Successful and Unsuccessful Re-branding..............................................................12 Chapter III: Case Profile Background: Toyota...............................................................................................................15 Toyota’s Re-branding Campaign...........................................................................................16 Toyota’s Economic Contribution to North America .............................................................17 The Toyota Tundra ................................................................................................................18 NASCAR and Toyota ...........................................................................................................21 Capitol Hill.............................................................................................................................21 Chapter IV: Case Analysis Re-branding............................................................................................................................23 Brand Equity ..........................................................................................................................25 Economic Contribution and Brand Loyalty...........................................................................26 Taking on the Competition ....................................................................................................27 Campaign Success .................................................................................................................28 Avoiding the Pitfalls of other Re-branding Initiatives...........................................................29 Lessons to be Learned............................................................................................................30 Long-term Predictions ...........................................................................................................31 Chapter V: Summary and Conclusion Summary and Conclusion ......................................................................................................32 Chapter VI: Works Consulted Works Consulted....................................................................................................................36

Chapter I- Introduction Toyota launched a re-branding campaign in May 2006, to portray itself as an “American car company” in the eyes of the American consumer. Re-branding is a technique often used when a company must change its image or reposition the company in the eyes of the company’s key publics. Re-branding is often a result of a merger, scandal, or slump in sales. In this instance, Toyota is on track to surpass General Motors as the number one carmaker in the world and the company seeks to be welcomed in the United States, not as a competitor, that surpassed an “American company”, but as a company who contributes to the United States economy as well. However, to accomplish this, Toyota must gain market share in the United States, specifically in the truck market, which is still heavily dominated by the domestic car manufacturers (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler). Toyota must also prove to the American automobile consumer that when they buy an automobile produced by Toyota, the profit in invested in the United States economy, not just the Japanese economy. This study seeks to analyze how Toyota Motor Corporation is re-branding itself as an American car company. Specifically, this study will look at the steps Toyota is taking to change its image in the United States from an import automobile manufacturer to one that supplies jobs and revenue to the United States economy. The study will look at the wide-range of strategic communication tactics being used in the campaign as well as the effectiveness of the campaign thus far.

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Toyota was the best selling foreign automobile brand in the United States (CAR Report. because Toyota was not a Union company (Togo and Wartman p. forming a partnership with General Motors. Study Significance This study is significant to the field of public communication because now more than ever companies are using public communication professionals in conjunction with traditional marketing professionals to create branding and re-branding campaigns. 1).Objectives This study has several objectives including: • • • Define branding. by opening a dealership in California. Due to the pressure from the United Autoworkers Association as well as the American publics’ fierce loyalty to domestic 2 . In 1975. Toyota entered the manufacturing market in the United States in 1986. 2005). Define re-branding. According to Togo and Wartmann (1993) the United Autoworkers Association put heavy pressure on General Motors to forgo the venture. consumers must understand the practices and financial impact on the United States economy. It is significant to consumers because as corporations become more globally based. Analyze the strategies and tactics Toyota uses in its re-branding campaign. Background Toyota Motor Corporation began selling automobiles in the United States in 1957.

the market shifted more towards small automobiles. Togo and Wartman state. Toyota constantly researched the U. In the early 1970’s air pollution and the effects of auto emissions on the environment was being discussed among lawmakers and environmentalists alike in both Japan and the United States. “When the motorists of the world decided this was what they wanted. Toyota still relied on the founding principles to manage and make decisions within the company. Toyota was waiting to give it to them” (p.automobile brands. Togo and Wartman state. with success comes peril and as Toyota positions itself to become number one the company is facing intense criticism it has never 3 . 206). “American compact cars of the 1960’s were Detroit’s efforts to drive the foreign competition out of the country” (p. The United States automobile market has always been volatile. by 1971. Despite the newfound success in the United States. According to Togo and Wartman. Toyota became the world’s third largest auto manufacturer only behind General Motors and Ford Motor Company (p. but in 1979.187).S. market to determine what consumers desired and the best ways to provide a quality product at a low cost. in 1979. However against stiff competition. Throughout the eighties and nineties Toyota maintained its market shares in the United States and has gradually gained on General Motors in becoming the world’s largest auto manufacturer in the world. Toyota sold every car it exported to the United States and therefore the market gradually shifted in Toyota’s favor (p. However. Toyota embarked on an ambitious uphill battle. 166). 181). which Toyota benefited from. Toyota realized that the company should begin to research technology that would reduce car emissions or the company may be put out of business (p. 208).

Moreover. While critics of Toyota in the United States acknowledge that Toyota does provide numerous jobs to Americans.had to endure. because the headquarters of these companies are located in the United States and they invest in the United States economy. critics prefer and encourage others to support domestic auto manufactures. This study will only look at one foreign 4 . where the Toyota headquarters are located. the campaign this study analyzes is an ongoing campaign. they argue that the profit Toyota earns still goes back to Japan. Toyota launched the re-branding campaign discussed in this study. The study is incomplete because it only focuses on Toyota and omits all other foreign automotive brands. due to the majority of people in the United States who view Toyota as an import or foreign automobile company. However. Therefore. and dealerships. The American consumer is not the only audience Toyota is targeting in its re-branding efforts. Toyota executives yearn for lawmakers to acknowledge that they provide jobs to the American people and the company contributes and sustains communities and local economies. Toyota is seeking more clout on Capitol Hill. This is one of the main reasons behind Toyota repositioning itself in the United States auto market by launching a re-branding campaign to be perceived as an “American company”. research and development centers. Study Limitations This study has several limitations. therefore the study cannot analyze the final results of the campaign discussed. Nevertheless. and in turn the Japanese economy. From a political standpoint. Toyota also invests in the United States economy. those who support Toyota argue that due to the number of manufacturing plants.

automotive company and its re-branding campaign because of the vast number of automotive companies in the market and wealth of information. 5 . the Tundra. The third chapter is the case profile and it provides an in-depth description of the Toyota rebranding campaign highlighting the new advertisements Toyota launched for the Toyota’s new pick-up truck. and it summarizes and wraps up the study’s findings. The second chapter is the literature review and it reviews scholarly literature on branding and re-branding as well as successful cases of rebranding and failures of re-branding campaigns such as British Petroleum. The fourth chapter is the case analysis and it reviews and dissects the Toyota re-branding campaign by looking at the advertisements. Study Overview The first chapter. background and study limitations. Finally the fifth chapter is the conclusion. is the introduction to the study and will outline key objectives. product placement and messages of Toyota.

a brand is something that is bought by a customer. a brand is unique. consumers shop around to different manufactures to compare quality and prices. A product can be quickly outdated. WPP Group. London Branding is a marketing concept that has been around since the 1800’s. Aaker (1996) contends that differentiated brands have become a defining component of modern day marketing. it was not until the twentieth century that branding became a necessity to companies and manufacturers. Companies now more than ever must fight for the consumer. With the rise in trade and production. Aaker states that in recent years brand loyalty has been decreasing and companies must now fight more than ever to gain a long-term customer (p.Chapter II: Literature Review In order to study how Toyota is re-branding itself as an American car company. A product can be copied by a competitor. consumers were given various choices of products. 8). 6 . and therefore manufacturers were forced to distinguish themselves from each other. consumer branding came about after the industrial revolution when railroads began transporting goods to other destinations. Today. However. this chapter surveys the literature on branding and re-branding as well as successful cases of re-branding. For instance. a successful brand is timeless. gone are the days when people bought Oldsmobile automobiles out of loyalty for the brand.”  Stephen King. According to Aakers (1996). Defining Branding “A product is something that is made in a factory.

which is the ultimate goal for many companies. 7 . or some combination. This goes hand in hand with brand name dominance. and brand associations (p.8). symbol. There are many subsets of branding such as brand equity. There are four ways that brand equity generates value for a company: brand loyalty.Doyle (1990) defines branding as the way in which companies who offer competing merchandise distinguish products from competitors. Kleenex. 10). Aaker asserts that brand awareness is how strong a brand is in the mind of a consumer. there a certain brands in which consumers use the name of the brand rather than the product name such as: A-1 Steak Sauce. Brand Equity Aaker (1996) states that brand equity is an intangible asset that is represented by the brand name. psychology research shows that when people recognize a brand they are immediately more positive and relaxed (p. Brand awareness is measured by the various ways people recognize brands. In other words. therefore conveying the belief that if a customer buys a specific brand it will help them attain a certain status or image. To better understand the concept of branding. and Xerox (p. brand identity. “a name. 6). brand awareness. He defines a successful brand as. design. which identifies the ‘product’ of a particular organization as having a sustainable differential advantage” (p. these subsets are discussed below. For example. perceived quality. Doyle contends that successful brands portray an image that customers strive to achieve. According to Aaker. a successful brand conveys something that make consumers want to buy their product. 15). and brand management.

new campaigns. 478). Muzellec and Stuart contend that when a company decides to go through the rebranding process. Scholars have suggested various reasons a corporation chooses to re-brand. the overall goal is to show the stakeholders. Others choose to change specific aspects of their brand such as the target audiences. corporations may decide that the company needs to be taken in a new direction. Re-branding is used when a company is attempting to redefine and change the consumer’s perception of the corporation. or both (p. 473). or a desire a company possesses to become a global brand. with a fresh vision and new strategies. Muzellec and Stuart (2004) define rebranding as the way a brand is “reborn”. Corporations must determine how best to change the image of the company while maintaining the loyal customer base of the company. Muzellec and Stuart state. slogan.Re-branding Re-branding is another tactic of branding. and the marketplace that the company has changed (p. 473). and a newly defined image. logo. Revolutionary change means that everything is created anew by changing three elements: name. Re-branding is an expensive endeavor whether a corporation changes everything or just the company’s slogan. “An Advertising campaign can prove to be extremely expensive but it is a minor cost when calculating the total cost of a change of identity” (p. economic reasons. More common reasons include mergers and acquisitions. According to 8 . Evolutionary change is when a company changes their logo. and slogan. consumers. legal reasons. Some companies change their name and logo in an attempt to signal new beginnings. According to Muzellec and Stuart. They state that a corporate rebranding has different facets.

many companies use changes in performance of the company to evaluate the campaign such as increased revenue. Muzellec and Stuart also state that companies should be aware that many rebranding campaigns face ridicule and skepticism from the press. Muzellec and Stuart contend that one of the most common mistakes corporations can make is being too short sighted. consistency and continuity are key elements of a corporate re-branding campaign. However. 480): • • What will happen if we don’t make this change? Exactly what is being signaled? 9 . corporations must determine a way to compensate employees for both the work they do in their day-to-day tasks as well as the time the spent on the re-branding effort of the company. Moreover. Re-branding efforts are not always successful and some revert to the old image of the company. slogan or brand name. research as with most marketing and communication campaigns is a necessity. Moreover. but to disassociate the company from the old one. they will have to spent money not only to promote the new brand. when corporations decide to re-brand. The best way to evaluate a rebranding campaign is to look at the initial goals and objectives of the campaign. Muzellec and Stuart contend that the success or failure of a company’s rebranding effort is very difficult to measure. Re-branding Techniques According to Muzellec and Stuart (2004). Corporations must research the long-term effects of changing the logo.Muzellec and Stuart. They suggest that the following questions be addressed before launching a corporate re-branding campaign (p.

many companies have been trying to stay away from their “Britishness”. the United States led the world with 1. or is the organization merely reacting to competitor changes in corporate branding? Muzellec and Stuart note that it is vitally important that companies recognize the important and decision-making role stockholders have in companies. re-branding has increased by 7 percent all around the world. “re-branding is the buzzword of the moment” (p. stockholders become suspicious of the change and become very upset by the costs accrued by a re-branding campaign.• • Are the key stakeholders cognizant and positive about the change? What will be the reaction of my competitors to this change. logo. First is “the heritage re-branding trap. In the first half of 2001. such as British Telecom. Kaikati states that.761 name changes (p. The third pitfall. 18). Kaikati contends there are four pitfalls of re-branding campaigns.” is when two 10 . the “do not follow the crowd pitfall” means that many companies may feel that if competitors are consolidating brands and launching re-branding campaigns then they must also. For example. The scholars also state that many corporations neglect to realize that the employees of the company may feel loyal towards the old name. and British Petroleum (p. and not necessarily the new ones. Instead. ‘resist merger re-branding. and missions of the corporation. According to Kaikati (2003). 18). Muzellec and Stuart contend that many stockholders do not believe that corporate re-branding leads to a positive outcome. Second. Corporations then rush into re-branding campaigns that are unnecessary for their particular company.” which is when a company attempts to distance itself from its heritage. 17). British Gas.

21). Finally.companies merge together and then automatically launch a re-branding campaign. Disney used this strategy when they launched Disney in Paris. It is most effective for companies who have recently merged to do research and take time to decide whether a re-branding campaign is necessary and will be effective (p. Combined branding is when the campaign combines existing brands. The first is the “phase in/phase out” strategy. but then changed the name to Disneyland Paris (p. corporations cannot solely rely on celebrities to boost their image. Re-branding for Success Kaikati (2003) asserts there are six strategies that can lead to a successful rebranding campaign. they called the new theme park Euro Disney. in-store displays. promotion. 20). the “watch out for celebrity re-branding snits” means that when corporations feel they need to revamp their image. They combined both brands and became Visa International. However. 21). Kaikati uses the example of the National BankAmericard and Visa. The phase in/phase out strategy is when the campaign ties the new brand to the old brand for a certain time period in the beginning of the campaign. The second is the “combined branding” strategy. Kaikati asserts that the translucent warning strategy is when the campaign is designed to alert customers before and after the brand change. and product packaging (p. The campaign uses communication tools such as. 21). An example Kaikati gives for a success of this tactic is the Marathon campaign. The marathon bar in the United Kingdom was 11 . which is in over 120 countries (p. In the beginning. The third is the “translucent warning” strategy. they immediately turn towards celebrities.

22).re-branded as snickers. Wunderman (p. Kaikati cites the McCall magazine campaign. the company that is taken over does not re-brand the company that acquires the brand leaves behind their brand for the acquired one. The firm went through several acquisitions and was ultimately re-branded as Impiric. this method is used most frequently when a company has been taken over. 22). However. which re-branded the magazine as Rosie immediately. Kaikati contends this is a good option for companies who need to distance themselves from a brand that has been negative. 12 . Finally. clients were confused and it dramatically hurt their business. Below are various successful corporate re-branding cases and an unsuccessful summary of a re-branding case. the retro branding strategy is when a company changes its name. Kaikati cites the case of Wunderman. realizes it is the wrong decision and then restores the old name. Cases of Successful & Unsuccessful Re-branding Over the years many companies have decided to launch re-branding campaigns in an effort to define an entire corporation or specific products companies manufacture. The fifth strategy is “counter-takeover re-branding. However. founded by someone deemed “the father of marketing” (p.” According to Kaikati. They eventually went back to the originally name. which is a marketing company. The fourth strategy is the Sudden eradication strategy is when a corporation distances itself from the old brand name immediately and then replaces it immediately.

According to Interbrand’s case study. Pepper to Fanta Lite and Dr.AT&T and Cingular Interbrand was hired to manage a re-branding campaign for AT&T when the company acquired Bell South and Cingular.com). It was determined that AT&T was in fact a viable brand and it was found to have a 98% awareness rating all over the United States (www. respected and held brand equity. According to Interbrand. Coca-Cola determined that it was necessary to rename their diet products from Diet Fanta and Diet Dr. The corporation did this so that the products were the same as others marketed throughout Europe. the campaign was successful with both the external and internal publics. Coca Cola in the United Kingdom The Coca-Cola Corporation launched a re-branding campaign in the United Kingdom of their diet drinks in 2002. conducting media outreach and showcasing the new logo. However. The re-branding campaign launched a new logo and was supported by an integrated communications plan to highlight the new. interestingly enough.interbrand. 13 . A significant amount of financial resources have been invested in the product since in was introduced to the United Kingdom in 1983. Interbrand assisted AT&T in creating various advertisements. Pepper Lite. fresh and revitalized brand. it was decided that Diet Coke would not change its name due to its brand equity. the firm conducted brand research to determine if the AT&T brand was still well-known.

3). especially because of the image portrayed as a more environmentally friendly. and a few smaller ones merged under one name. However. as environmentally friendly and their actions have not reflected the new image. socially responsible corporation. “It seems BP is investing more in image than environment. The company launched a global re-branding campaign to redefine the brand now that two companies had successfully merged. town hall meetings. “ The re-branding entailed the introduction of a new visual identity and a new brand positioning. deliver top-line growth. BP has come under criticism. interviews with key executives. In the immediate aftermath of the campaign.British Petroleum According to a case study conducted by Ogilvy Pubic Relations. designed to help BP transcend the oil sector. in 1999.Beyond Petroleum. progressive. environmentally responsible. the define the company as innovative. The re-branding campaign consisted of an integrated communications plan consisting tools such as numerous video news releases. with some saying that the re-branding campaign was just a tool used to boost the company’s image. it was hailed as a success. British Petroleum merged with Amoco and renamed itself BP. Would a company spend hundreds of millions of dollars in solar investment just to enhance its reputation? Well. Ogilvy states it was hired to execute. and advertisements. and performance driven” (www.cfm).com/case-studies/bp. in recent years. BP has already spent that much just on it’s ‘beyond petroleum’ re-branding campaign” (p. 14 . According to Beder (2002).ogilvypr.

Currently. “By late December. Toyota produced its first automobile in 1935 (www. The Company: Toyota Toyota began as a textile company in the early 1900’s in Japan. Toyota still uses the 14 principles the company was founded on encompassing ideals such as having a long-term philosophy. the best foreign automobile brand in the United States. In 1975. quality always comes first.34 million cars and trucksindicated that it would soon pass G. According to Gertner (2007). analysts predict that Toyota will replace General Motors as the number one automobile manufacturer in the world. Gertner writes. Toyota became and remains to this day. 15 . But the Toyota culture dominates” (p. Toyota’s global projections for 2007.toyota. and developing teams with great leaders. rising gas prices in the 1970’s and the fuel efficiency of the Corona versus domestic cars (p.com). It was not until the 1965 Corona.M.the production of 9.Chapter III: Case Profile This chapter profiles the Toyota Company and the communications campaign the company launched to promote Toyota’s positive impact on the United States economy. Why? Maybe a little more Many industry insiders have attributed the success of Toyota to “a Japanese quality of persistence and ingenuity” (Gertner 2007). the low cost to manufacture in Japan. as the world’s largest car company” (p. that Toyota’s sales began to increase. “It (Toyota) builds on many things that are Japanese – precision. This was due to a number of factors such as. 1). The first few years Toyota were in the United States the company were not profitable. quality. and loyalty. 7). Toyota first came to the United States in 1957 with a dealership in California. 9).

Toyota’s Re-branding Campaign In 2006.Toyota is experiencing success in every facet of the company. while branding themselves as an “American company” in the United States. The objective of Toyota’s re-branding campaign is to show the American consumer the positive impact Toyota has on the United States economy. Moreover. Toyota launched a multi-faceted campaign to re-brand the company as an “American company” in the United States that contributes jobs and wealth to the U. According to Welch. economy. The company wanted to maintain its Japanese traditions and culture that are instrumental in the overall brand of Toyota. they wanted to maintain a balance between remaining a Japanese company in the eyes of international consumers. It’s very important for our company and products to earn citizenship in the U.launching literacy programs in 16 . Many industry insiders are writing articles recently on why Toyota is afraid of becoming the number one global automaker.S. Katsuaki Watanabe states. The Chief-Executive-Officer of Toyota. “We constantly need to think about the potential backlash against us. This is due to the popularity of large trucks and sport utility vehicles in the United States (of which Toyota does not manufacture as many as domestic manufacturers). “Toyota doesn’t want to be seen as the one that pushes Detroit over the edge. the company is amping up the charm. as well as the notion of Americans wanting to “Buy American”. Perhaps the most interesting part of the campaign is the reason Toyota is pushing to re-brand itself in the United States. We need to make sure we are accepted” (Welch 2007). So to prevent backlash. except the ability to capture the United States market.S.

Second. because while American workers may make some Toyota automobiles here. the headquarters and heart of the company is still in Japan. I know Toyota creates jobs here. as well as research and development centers in the all over the United States. I believe in supporting American jobs. and pouring money into lobbying” (p. Toyota opened a large number of plants. Toyota specifically selected sites in regions dominated by the domestic automakers such as Southern states. Toyota aggressively promoted their new Tundra pickup truck to bring attention to the amount of jobs and capital they bring to the U.toyota. overcome these hurdles achieve its re-branding objective. Currently. as well as research and development centers in the all over the United States. First. Toyota entered a car for the first time ever at the Daytona 500. employed 38.com). specifically targeting lawmakers who have Toyota plants located in their districts.2).S. Welch quotes a man in Texas. Third. To Toyota’s economic contribution to North America One of the first and major components of Toyota’s re-branding campaign entailed increasing its visibility by opening several new manufacturing plants. economy.340 people in North America (www. Toyota increased its lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. Toyota has implemented several strategies to make their presence known in the United States. specifically in regions dominated by the domestic automakers such as Southern states. Toyota operates 14 manufacturing plants in North America and in 2005. 3). vowing to share technology with Ford. but the money goes back to Japan” (p. According to a 17 . Finally. “I have never owned a Japanese car of any kind.San Antonio. Toyota’s biggest challenge will be convincing consumers where the money actually goes.

which resulted in $1. Furthermore. In a 2005 advertising campaign Toyota featured a West Virginia Toyota plant with the slogan. “The Company is ramping up a marketing and public 18 . investment. Toyota’s U. Texas encompasses the “Buy American” consumer attitude in the United States. The Toyota Tundra A second component of the campaign was the hiring of a public relations firm to launch a major promotional campaign to highlight the Toyota Tundra. Texas. They are also advertising on the radio and in airports across the country (p. Toyota is incorporating the campaign slogan in its new advertisements using slogans such as: “13.1). “It takes local talent to build world-class engines” (PR Newswire. Toyota indirectly provided an additional 74. also manufactured in San Antonio. I.S.study commissioned by Toyota. Toyota launched its new pick-up truck. thus Toyota launched a large scale advertising campaign to promote the Tundra along with the jobs and revenue it is bringing to the state economy in Texas.060 jobs through those who service and sell Toyota products in the United States. the Tundra. 2005). According to Welch (2007). conducted by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Toyota employed 29. executive summary). executive summary). which resulted in $2. However. The pick-up truck market is still a sector of the automobile industry that the domestic auto companies continue to dominate. The advertisement showcased eight Toyota plants in the United States and the assembly lines and production that take place in the plants. in 2007.9 billion in compensation (CAR 2003. in billions” (Sewell 2006).Donuts in a Baker’s dozen. specifically General Motors and Toyota.135 jobs to the United States in 2003.6 billion in compensation (p.

1).1). 19 . reaching out the potential customers by sponsoring community activities and activities as a local level (p. The vice president of marketing for Toyota indicated that the Tundra marketing campaign is the largest marketing campaign to date conducted by Toyota in the United States (p. and Internet advertisements. A full page print advertisement in the USA Today (2007) states. Toyota-moving forward.relations push to counter the noise being made in advance of the opening of Toyota’s new San Antonio plant. Toyota kicked off the campaign with commercials during the NFL Super Bowl in February. According to Collier (2006) in the coming year.” The advertisement is a picture of the Tundra with a pair of cowboy boots next to it.000 of its new Tundra pick-up trucks a year starting next month” (p. “Nowhere in Toyota’s newest round of ads is there a mention of fuel economy. The Tundra campaign is comprised of print. This advertising does not focus on the aspects of Toyota that Americans are used to such as hybrid cars and advanced technology. television. hybrid technology or anything else that has helped put it on pace to become the world’s largest carmaker this year” (p. Toyota is working with advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles and some reports estimate it’s spending $100 million on the campaign. which will build 200. 3). 1). 1). Just look at the truck we build there. “They say things are bigger in Texas. The campaign is also going to operate on a grassroots level. Bunkley (2007) states. One slogan that is being used is “the truck that changed it all” (p. Toyota plans on tripling the money it spends marketing its vehicles.

S. and sports (p. It’s what drives us to think big.000 team member and on-site supplier jobs. even by Texas standards.S. 20 . But Toyota.000 Investment……$15 B When you think Texas. bringing Toyota’s total U. With a total of over 4. Miller states. 1). Which is impressive. Toyota’s 10th in the U.. it represents a sizeable investment in the local community. our biggest pick-up truck yet. a perception that has been almost impossible to shake in a country where Toyotas and Hondas are still antiquatedly referred to as ‘Japanese cars’ (p.S. 1). NASCAR. Operations Plants……………. The Tundra will also run a 4-page advertisement in the 2007 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition (p. According to Miller (2007) the campaign is going to target five key truck segments: hunting and fishing. construction. too.. This new plant is just one more example of our commitment to America. country music. has attached an “assembled in America” statement in its advertising for the Tundra to ensure that consumers are aware that the trucks are being built here by Americans. investment to over $15 billion.10 Total Jobs…. “The Big Three has a ferociously loyal truck base.about our vehicles and the people who drive them. chances are you think big.386.S.com with swimsuit models posing with the Tundra.. Toyota will also be featured on SI. is a vital part of our U. Which is why we’ve made San Antonio the home of the new full-sized Tundra.They have multiple facts underneath the picture such as: Toyota U. operations. The San Antonio plant. a ‘made in America’ following that will not waver in many regions. 1).

and two Nissan Titans. Ford holds the number one spot in the pick-up market (nearly 800. Toyota entered the Daytona 500.As stated above Toyota is focusing on grassroots efforts to gain in the truck market. Over the past year. Currently. 2). its claim to be treated as an ‘American’ company based on the factories it has built here and the thousands of jobs it has created” (p. two Ford F-150s. after 50 years. He disassembled half of the trucks so that customers that visit the showroom can compare the bare chassis of the competitors to the new Toyota Tundra (p. which is also the second best selling automobile in the United States overall (p. For example. For the first time ever in. and many other events in an attempt to introduce the Tundra to domestic truck drivers. Jenkins states. Toyota stepped up its presence on Capitol Hill. Box (2007) writes of one dealership owner who purchased two Chevrolet Silverados. 2007. two Dodge Rams. In an advertising blitz Toyota will host ride and drives of the Tundra at local events such as fishing tournaments. Toyota entered the race to gain a following behind its new Tundra pick-up. Capitol Hill Finally. otherwise known as “the great American race” (Jenkins 2007). Toyota has been gearing up to face the backlash repercussions it expects to face should it 21 . Brooks & Dunn concerts. A20). NASCAR and Toyota A third major initiative of Toyota’s re-branding was the company’s participation in the Daytona 500.000 sold last year) and General Motors is a close second with the Chevrolet Silverado. “Joining NASCAR is the company’s way of asserting. 1). According to industry experts.

Kilometers to the Moon. when he was in Congress. “386. One banner reads the number 8 with the words “Members on tug-of-war team. It has also added experience to its lobbying staff. (p. It is still too early to tell the effectiveness of the re-branding campaign. hiring a former aide to Vice-President Cheney.2). the purpose of the ads is “to press Toyota’s American credentials to policymakers” (p. 22 . Toyota placed advertisements at a number of metro transit stations. They have increased their lobbying budget by 4 times with it now at $3.2). D. Due to Toyota’s increasing number of plants. In 2006. Toyota reinforced its presence on Capitol Hill with increased visibility in Washington. They are starting to build their presence on Capitol Hill and forming alliances with lawmakers who represent districts where Toyota plants are located.2).2). 2).” Another advertisement states. Maids amilking. Toyota models built in U. However.S. at places such as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (p. Toyota launched an advertising blitz inside the beltway.000.S.4 million in 2005 (p. Jobs created by Toyota in the U.pass General Motors as the number one automaker in the world. The company added money and manpower to its lobbying efforts.C. according to Inous and Komatsu (2007) in April 2007. Bird watchers in Nebraska. Toyota also sponsors local community events in Washington. Toyota reportedly surpassed General Motors Corporation in first-quarter sales for the first time in 76 years. According to Newmyer (2007).” (p. they are steadily gaining allies in Congress because of the jobs they are bringing to state economies.

Toyota is in a unique position because the company is attempting to create a new image in the United States while maintaining its current image overseas. Re-branding is most often used when a company is seeking to change the public’s perception of its image or reposition itself in a specific market. This chapter analyzes the Toyota re-branding campaign using the scholarly writings and case studies citied in the literature review. a position currently held by the General Motors Corporation. Therefore. According to various financial and automotive analysts. Toyota launched a re-branding campaign to showcase the corporation’s impact on the United States economy. This presents new challenges to Toyota and the image of its brand. Toyota has retained the title of the most successful import automotive company in the United States. As part of Toyota’s re-branding effort. Since 1975. Toyota is poised to become the number one automaker in the world. the company strives to be 23 . Assessing the potential success of Toyota’s re-branding campaign can be understood by looking at the important components of re-branding. Re-branding Muzellec and Stuart define re-branding as the way a brand is “reborn”. Toyota did not want to be seen as the company that surpassed the number one domestic automaker from being the best selling Automotive Company.Chapter IV: Case Analysis The Toyota re-branding campaign is an ongoing initiative that is gaining momentum in 2007.

Toyota did not portray an image that the company desired to “court” the American consumer and the company did not put an exorbitant amount of energy or financial elements behind the messaging campaigns in the United States. This enabled Toyota to create a positive image of the company while also showcasing the founding principles that guided the company on how best to relate to the community. the company could benefit from aligning itself with the American consumer and capitalize on the opportunity. This was extremely successful in bridging the gap between the automaker and the community as well as achieving a formidable relationship between Toyota and the community. It sought to reach out to American consumers. Advertising was also part of the re-branding effort.S. The advertisements facilitated the process of creating a dialogue with the American consumer and showcased facts and figures consumers were not exposed to before. in some plants. For years.respected and accepted by American consumers. it launched literacy programs in San Antonio where Toyota built a new plant. Then. specifically the ones showcasing the amount of revenue the company contributes to the United States economy. to connect with the community. One technique the company used was opening plants around U. The advertisements they ran in many national newspapers and magazines were a success as well. 24 . This allowed Toyota to educate the consumer on its economic contributions and become more of a presence in the United States. Toyota soon realized. when the domestic car manufacturers began to struggle.

Finally. Brand loyalty is the long-time customer base. Toyota frequently discusses its “founding principles” and the Japanese traditions the company culture is based on. 25 . brand association is the image a company is associated with. and brand associations.Brand Equity Aaker states that brand equity is an intangible asset that is represented by the brand name. The Toyota Corporation encompasses all four of the above-mentioned characteristics of brand equity. Toyota was very aware of the importance of brand equity. perceived quality. brand awareness. Brand equity generates value for a company in four ways: brand loyalty. when consumers think of Toyota. Toyota’s hybrid electric car. for Toyota it is for the most part a positive image. many think of the Prius. Brand awareness is how strong a brand is in the mind of a consumer and Toyota is known in the automotive industry and among consumers for producing well-made reliable products. simply because they are made by Toyota. For example. while also assuring the customers in Japan and around the world that at the very core it is still a Japanese company. Toyota quickly discovered that all of the above aspects that made the company extremely successful in Japan and other countries might not have the same impact in the United States because of cultural differences between the United States and other countries. and Toyota has a solid base of consumers that purchase autos. The perceived quality element is what the customer’s preconceived notion of a company is. It sought to find a balance between convincing American consumers that the company is investing in the American economy and American interests.

also known as the “Big 3”. while proving to American consumers that the money does not go back to the Japanese economy. while the company moves on to conquer the next viable market. Therefore.S. the general market is still the truck and Sport Utility Vehicle market. Toyota is capitalizing in the new consumer who is searching for the next best brand. while it sells well among a select consumer group. However. and in fact the tundra does not have good fuel economy. some of Toyota’s advertisements for the new Tundra make no reference of fuel economy or the environment. As discussed in the literature review. This market demographic purchases domestic autos in support of the U. Economic Contribution and Brand Loyalty Aaker pointed out the importance of economic contribution and brand loyalty when launching a re-branding campaign. Aaker discusses the recent decrease in brand loyalty and in the “long-term customer”. rather it is put back into the U. in the United States.The current campaign targets the American consumer who chooses to solely buy automobiles manufactured by domestic car manufactures. One of Toyota’s challenges is to maintain the aspects that make its brand equitable. when Toyota’s leadership decided to enter a car in the Daytona 500 26 . economy and they strongly believe that by buying a foreign automobile supports the economies of other countries rather than the United States. the best selling hybrid electric car. economy. For instance. As stated in the case profile. one aspect of Toyota that has been a major factor in Toyota’s success is the Prius.S. For example. This has attracted criticism and opponents of the advertisements feel that Toyota is forgetting about the customers who contributed to Toyota’s success.

the heart of domestic truck consumers. as people entertained the possibility of buying a Toyota. the American truck market has been a facet of the automotive industry that Toyota simply could not conquer. The company used traditional re-branding tactics to gain market share. Their campaign is still building momentum in San Antonio.for the first time ever. Toyota is 27 . Toyota recognized that if the company wants to conquer the United States market it must conquer the competitors’ market also. such as capitalizing on the equity of the company’s name to generate more customers and revenue. they also tend to buy American brands. However. The company launched a multi-faceted campaign to present itself as an American truck manufacturer. Toyota used these advertisements to entice consumers who felt they needed to be loyal to “American-made brands” that they should feel comfortable buying Toyota as well. As stated in the case profile. it was a conscious decision to target the NASCAR community. another aspect of re-branding is being aware of the competition and companies must set themselves apart from the competition. who are known for still being fiercely loyal consumers. domestic automakers’ sales have been declining which is leading them to close manufacturing plants all across the United States. Toyota sought to take on the competition through its Toyota Tundra truck campaign. For many years. Toyota used various advertisements to garner attention on the impact the company continues to have on the United States economy. Toyota decided to build a truck plant in San Antonio. Texas. Taking on the Competition According to Doyle. something these consumers have never considered before. Over the past few years.

S economy. The key 28 . Further. Campaign Success The campaign is still ongoing. Toyota is still the first to admit.S. customer base is building around the Toyota Tundra. the company has successfully gained U. Many Americans will agree that Toyota automobiles are well-manufactured products. However. they find more members on Congress who are willing to sponsor legislations that will help them in the Unites States such as trade policy. as they open more plants and research facilities in the United States. However. the Toyota campaign is gaining speed and with the current state of the U. and the actual outcome of the campaign will not be determined for another year or so. Perhaps this is a signal of that Toyota is becoming a viable brand in America and maybe recognized as an American car company. while Toyota is still gaining popularity in the United States. Moreover. Nevertheless. They are also gaining support in the United States Congress.capitalizing on these closures and is hiring people who never thought they would work for an import car company.S. the Big 3 still employ significantly more workers in the United States and contribute more to the United States economy. and opening up more plants and research and development centers. but the company does not support Unions or healthcare benefits the same way domestic auto manufacturers do. market share and since the inception of the campaign. they have a good chance at successfully re-branding themselves. the company has received a small number of national stories about truck buyers who have switched to the Toyota Tundra from domestic truck buyers. a U. the company has a long way to go in winning over the American consumer.

Toyota cannot deny that the ultimate goal is to takeover the number one spot from General Motors. but it also states that the company’s founding principles demand the company respect its consumers and be aware of their needs. From the beginning of Toyota’s campaign. They changed the color of their logo. The campaign was hailed as a great success in the early days.will be balancing their Japanese traditions and corporate culture with American consumerism and leveraging their image in the proper arenas. as many consumers and watch groups claimed they are hypocritical and misrepresent what they really stand for as a company. Avoiding the Pitfalls of other re-branding initiatives As discussed in the Literature Review. Therefore. However. is that nothing gets the American consumer more passionate than being misled. British Petroleum (BP) launched a campaign to change their image or re-brand the company as a more environmentally friendly company. One cultural consideration Toyota must make in order to avoid being called hypocritical. critics have said it is just another public relations stunt attempting to gain market share and Toyota does not truly care about the American consumer. and then it is discovered that most of the money still goes back to the company’s headquarters in 29 . their mission statement and goals. and eventually might be the ones who are leading the opposition against it. in the re-branding campaign if Toyota continues to sell itself as a company who contributes greatly to the American economy. The Toyota rebranding effort certainly has the potential to fall into this path also. but quickly came under heavy criticism. Toyota must recognize that those Americans who steadfastly believe in “buying American” will be the sharpest critics of the campaign.

has the greatest pitfall for the campaign. The ever-evolving culture of American consumerism operates under the notion that goods and services are a not a luxury. Toyota launched its campaign at a time with the domestic auto market was declining and American consumers were searching for something different and refreshing. multi-cultural case study that other corporations can benefit from. Where the revenue generated by Toyota’s sales in the United States ends up. companies may also learn from Toyota’s approach to taking over the United States market. they will lose the American consumer for a very long time. discovering how best to brand the company in the new demographic. timing is 90% of the success of a campaign and re-branding is no different. The most important lesson to be learned is. not expected. but they are owed and expected by Americans. or we do not need to earn them. We need to make sure we are accepted. Lessons to be learned Toyota is a fascinating global. no matter how much money is spent on a campaign. it must be the right time to launch the new identity. As with many things. It’s very important for our company and products to earn citizenship in the U. the Chief-ExecutiveOfficer of Toyota stated. as is the loyalty of the consumer. 30 . It is a lesson in understanding a new market.Japan.” Perhaps that statement showcases the biggest difference between the Japanese and American cultures.S. if not forever. “We constantly need to think about the potential backlash against us. As previously quoted in the case profile. and how to re-brand a company while maintaining its roots. However. In the Japanese culture goods are earned.

However. Many still firmly believe that while Toyota is creating jobs in the United States. 31 . Toyota attracts fiercely loyal customers because of the company’s reputation for producing good quality. Toyota still has an uphill battle to fight in conquering the “made in America” demographic. long lasting products. economy rather than the Japanese economy. becoming number one.Long-Term Predictions Toyota is well on its way to becoming the number one automaker in the world and as with anything. Toyota’s biggest strength is the quality its products are known for as well as the business model the company adheres too. brings many new challenges and criticisms. the company has still not been able to effectively showcase that they put the money back into the U.S.

Toyota is on track to surpass General Motors as the number one selling automotive manufacturer in the world. As stated in the literature review. and finally to analyze the strategies and tactics Toyota is using in its re-branding campaign. Branding and Re-branding are vital marketing and communication practices used to define a company’s image and messaging. The company approached the campaign using various communication strategies and mediums to effectively convey the messages to the target audience. rather than an import company in the United States. companies must portray an image of the brand that consumers want to embrace.Chapter V: Summary and Conclusion This study explored Toyota’s campaign to reposition the company as an American automotive company. Moreover. Toyota realized that with out the support of American consumers the quest to become number one would prove to be 32 . successful brands portray an image that consumers strive to achieve and believe that by associating themselves with that brand it will enhance their image. define re-branding. companies must fight for the long term customer and their loyalty to the company’s product. Toyota’s goal of the campaign was for American consumers to associate Toyota with the United States economy. As the practice of brand loyalty has begun to decrease among consumers. According to Doyle (1990). However. Re-branding is commonly used when a company seeks to reposition itself in the marketplace. This study sought to define branding. Aaker (1996) contends that a company must distinguish itself from competitors now more than ever.

advertisements in various national newspapers. Therefore. Toyota launched an expensive and comprehensive advertising campaign comprised of. Third. Toyota also recognized the power of brand loyalty. magazines and national television stations. they opened a plant in San Antonio. the company opened new manufacturing plants in the United States. while at the same time introducing new products such as the Toyota Tundra. Toyota has maintained its loyal customers by continuing to produce products they are known for such as the prius. Toyota used the reputation the brand has for manufacturing well-priced. launched a number of community events such as literacy programs. Texas and at the same time. 33 . The company appears to rely on the brand loyalty of its customers as Toyota seeks to win over a new target audience. This was vital to Toyota’s re-branding efforts because without the support of the local community. the campaign would not succeed. These advertisements provided Toyota the ability to showcase the company’s economic contribution to the United States to a variety of target audiences. The analysis of the Toyota re-branding initiative yielded several observations. Second. It was necessary for Toyota to prove that the company is committed to local communities where the company employees live and work. As Aaker (1996) defined brand equity as an intangible asset that is represented by the brand name. to mobilize and engage the community. the re-branding campaign was launched to showcase Toyota’s economic impact on the United States economy as well as in local communities. First.difficult. Finally. Most recently. For example. quality products to connect with the American consumer. Toyota capitalized on the brand equity of the company.

This study is significant to the field of public communication because as corporations pursue to manufacture products in a more complex global marketplace. the Toyota campaign is slightly different than other re-branding campaigns. The research in these fields would be very beneficial to communication professionals as they plan global campaigns. This is because the company must find the delicate balance between staying true to Toyota’s roots and founding principles in Japan. in order to surpass General Motors. Toyota reported higher sales of cars and trucks than General Motors Corporation in the first-quarter. More research should also be done in the areas of branding and re-branding. However. According to Inous and Komatsu (2007) in April 2007. while also integrating the American consumer and marketplace into the company. As stated earlier in the study. The Toyota re-branding campaign is an on-going campaign. Scholars should focus on more global branding and re-branding campaigns and what makes them campaigns successful. This is a slight indication that the campaign has been successful thus far. communication professionals must learn how to think and implement global communication campaigns in a strategic way. Toyota must convince the American consumer that the company is vital contributor to the United States economy. therefore the overall success of the campaign cannot yet be measured. for the first time in 76 years. as the 34 . it is gaining momentum and resulting in higher profits for Toyota. Future research should be done to determine the ultimate success and effectiveness of this campaign once it draws to a close. while also convincing the Japanese consumer that Toyota is still the same company it was one hundred years ago.

This campaign may also set the standard and precedence in the United States for what constitutes an “American company. will it ever really be enough to overcome the “buy American” mentality numerous Americans embrace? Regardless of what the answers to these questions may be. regardless of how Toyota and other global corporations are perceived. the way in which a corporation is branded is more important than ever before. branding and rebranding are extremely important tools in shaping the global image of corporations all over the world. Moreover.” Is a company “American” if the headquarters are in the United States. but it out sources all of its jobs to other countries where operations are cheaper? Is a company considered an “American company” if it makes significant contributions to the United States economy by employing hundreds of Americans and supporting the communities in which the company operates. and perhaps the American consumers’ reaction to Toyota will provide some insights into the answer. 35 .number one automobile manufacturer in the world. As corporations become more socially responsible and consumer friendly. but its overall profit goes back to the country in which the corporation is headquartered? These questions are beginning to emerge all across the map.

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