How Saatchi & Saatchi’s Toyota Social Media Disaster Unfolded

An online backlash is growing against a smutty Toyota ad featuring a girl’s father and boyfriend having an innuendo-laden discussion about taking her virginity and “having her on her back” .  The video was the winner of a Toyota-endorsed competition, the Clever Film Competition, which was organised by Saatchi & Saatchi. The running of the competition was the ad agency’s entry into Toyota’s live social media pitch which saw five social media campaigns being run for the Toyota Yaris.

The video has been accused of having incestuous overtones and already generated consumer complaints to the car company, which stands by it as “funny and well made”.

Tim Burrowes, editor of Mumbrella,  offers a case study of Toyota’s disastrous foray into social media in Australia.  He says it offers a demonstration of what skills an agency needs to play in that space.  What was missing in this campaign, which led to a backlash against a TV ad deemed sexist, was PR expertise. Although advertising has always had the potential to be controversial, for social media that possibility grows exponentially and that risk needs to be controlled.

Burrowes says Saatchi & Saatchi demonstrated that you actually need to understand social media before you start. You can’t start learning on the client’s time.  Read his full commentary is at Mumbrella.