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Can Toyota Digg its way out of recall crisis?

The reeling Japanese automaker turns from old school PR to new media.


  • coredump0x01: Why is Toyota and other automakers using an electronics-based "drive-by-wire" system for acceleration control instead of the more traditional cable and pulley system?
  • jamak: Why is Toyota not re-examining its drive-by-wire systems in its models which have accelerating problem ? It seems obvious that it was not a floor mat problem and it will not be due to pedal problems. It seems to be due to faulty drive-by-wire system or a bug in the software inside this system. No point in blaming harmless things in the car while ignoring the hidden problem.

A bunch feel like Toyota marketing department plants:

  • coldzero1120: "What is your leadership philosophy? How do you apply it to your leader position? How do you balance between finance and other values (eg. your people, family or your own values)? What is your most honored achievement in life?"
  • gen8x: "I think Toyota clients are quite tolerant and sympathized to the situation. Do you intend to organize a public event name e.g. "Toyota Commitment Day" to say thanks for the clients' patience?"
  • raf4far: Is going on Digg Dialogg part of your campaign to try to get people trust Toyota again, and would you have ever been on Digg Dialogg if it wasn't for this?

And, since this is the internet, the best subset is just plain funny:

  • Dinsdale77: Dude why doesn't Toyota make coffee? And, on a related note, is there anything about coffee that could make it work too fast, like a car?
  • HeavySausage: Do you own a samurai sword?
  • pstroll: how do i get corporate hair like you?
  • ajv205: When will Toyota start making cars that can fly? That would be great.

Will this new strategy work? Of course, it's too soon to know and much will depend upon Lentz's performance when the interview takes place next week.

Moreover, the 14 previous Digg Dialogues have starred less controversial subjects like NFL running back Adrian Peterson, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, and Matt Damon. So featuring a harried suit in crisis is a departure for Digg, let alone for a traditionally conservative corporate giant like Toyota.

But in the grand scheme of crisis management — to say nothing of the vagaries of a fragmenting media industry and the idiosyncrasies of a worldwide consumer market — this feels like the right move for our times.

First, it allows a global audience to ask a global company about a global problem. Toyota is putting the world in the world wide web, as a way to respond directly to its cascading quality and image woes.

But best of all, the Digg strategy sidesteps well-coifed talking heads like the "Today" show's Matt Lauer and ABC's Brian Ross. That's a big depature from traditional ways to get a corporate message out.

Instead, it puts the power — or at least the power to question — where it belongs: in the hands of people who actually might want to buy Toyotas again.

This recall crisis will only end with real people making real decisions about what they really want to buy. For Toyota, a more transparent and democratic approach now playing out on Digg could make all the difference.