Toyota’s Ideas for Good campaign…

Toyota has had a pretty rough year. In January, there was the recall due to gas pedal issues (and the fallout). In July, a voluntary recall was announced involving approximately 373,000 2000-2004 Model Year Toyota Avalons sold in the United States to address the possibility that the vehicle’s steering lock bar could break under certain conditions. And last week, Toyota announced that it will recall about 110,000 of its Sienna minivans globally due to a problem with its braking system. The defective vehicles are manufactured before November 5, 2010.

Definitely not pretty. That’s why the ad I spotted in a recent Bloomberg Businessweek issue was like a breath of fresh air.

“How would you use our technology to make a better world?”

That was the question posed to the reader. I liked the layout of the ad which included a white lined piece of paper with some writing utensils (pen and pencil). The top of the page read, “Jot down some Ideas.”

I’m always up for that.

So I did some research. The mini-site Toyota set up,, is cool.


I found that the actual campaign was announced in early November. Created by Toyota’s advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi LA, the intent of the campaign is to demonstrate Toyota’s commitment towards innovation and continuous improvement.

The campaign utilizes broadcast, print and online mediums to showcase five Toyota technologies:

Visitors to the website are encouraged to share their ideas for a chance to make them a reality.

Additionally, they can view background information on the panel of experts serving as consumer challenge judges: Joel Stitzel, Ph.D. of Wake Forest University; Keith Grossman of WIRED Magazine; Grace Hawthorne of Stanford University Design School; Jake Ward of Popular Science and Josh Morenstein of fuseproject.

This story from The Inspiration Room does a good job discussing the initiative.

To me, there are some important takeaways.

  • Toyota is striving to reposition themselves as innovators. The recalls sort of dragged them into the hole that many American car companies have fallen into.
  • Toyota is also showing the ability to think outside the box — looking at how their technologies can benefit other industries.
  • Toyota is embracing modern marketing tools (YouTube, Facebook, etc.) to pull this off.

These are all good signs.  Now if the company can be like Sprint, with a determined focus on continuous improvements in quality and customer care, then 2011 might just be the year of the rebound for Toyota.

Here’s an example of Toyota technology “doing good.”


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