This morning Fox 4 News aired a story about a Lisa Allen, a woman who’s Toyota Corolla’s speedometer had reached the limit of miles it could record, 299,999 miles to be precise. She had purchased her Corolla spanking new off the lot in 2005, lovingly drove for 14 years and still had the original motor. She also used a mile counter from State Farm that records her driving behavior to give her car insurance discounts. The problem is the device is connected to her odometer and when it reached its limit, it also stopped recording. This made it impossible for State Farm to interpret her driving stats and disallowed her discount.
When she contacted Toyota corporate they said they would get back to her back within 48 hours. Two weeks went by. Then Lisa contacted Fox 4 News reporter, Steve Noviello, who headlines consumer reporting stories for “On Your Side” and “Save Me Steve.” He contacted Toyota and not surprisingly, they immediately called Ms. Allen back telling her that her speedometer had reached its limit and she needed contact her Toyota dealership directly and have it replaced for the hefty price of $905.00 parts and labor. Ms. Allen thinks she should not have to pay for anything. And after weeks of trying, Toyota finally replaced her odometer for free.
It’s blatantly obvious that this is a missed opportunity to extol the dependability of the brand. Lisa Allen loves her car and obviously spends a lot of time driving it. For a car to be so dependable that it outlasts its odometer is a consumer love story that should be told to the world. This was Ms. Allen’s first new car ever, and she purchased it with her own money, drove it dickens out of it and the car is still reliable at over 300,000 miles. Talk about brand truth! A smart marketing idea would be to create TV spot showing a montage of Allen’s life events where she drove her Corolla. The car could be portrayed as always being with her…akin to a beloved pet.
But that’s just one idea. We’re confident Toyota could come up with a stellar campaign. And if they don’t, they are missing a great opportunity to tell the Corolla brand story.