Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.


Toyota can bounce back

Q: The once admired carmaker is reeling from revelations about uncontrolled acceleration and the recall of millions of vehicles. Can the company ever regain its renown for quality and its aura of success? Is success always linked to reputation? Would you buy a Toyota now?

Would you take a Tylenol now? Seems like a silly question -- after all, Tylenol is a leading brand of pain reliever and is commonly used by hospitals.

But a few decades ago, the answer would have been much different. In the fall of 1982, bottles of Extra-Strength Tylenol were tampered with and contained capsules that were laced with potassium cyanide. Seven people died as a result, and the public panicked. Sales of Tylenol dipped from 35 percent of market share to 8 percent.

Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Tylenol, not only recovered, but it rebounded quickly. How? The company was honest with the public from the beginning and staged a massive recall. It switched from capsules to solid caplets and began triple-sealing its bottles. A vigorous promotional campaign also sought to restore public confidence in the Tylenol brand.

This is a formula that Toyota must follow. First, it must fix the problem. What Toyota needs to do in engineering is probably easy enough. Next, the company must reassure the public. Putting these problems behind it will require strong and steady public relations moves augmented by an open and honest advertising campaign. And, of course, like Tylenol, Toyota must back up its public relations with solid performance, which will take time.

Would I buy a Toyota? I drive a 2007 Pontiac Vibe, made in California by the United Auto Workers. The Vibe is actually a Toyota Corolla with a station wagon body. I would be happy to buy another one--I just wish Pontiac were still around.

By Jan Scruggs  |  March 1, 2010; 4:18 PM ET  | Category:  Recovering from failure Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please report offensive comments below.

1- what makes Mr. Scruggs an expert on Toyota- or for that matter on Tylenol?
2- I am an unhappy owner of a Toyota product-that has had one recall so far- for the less that sophisticatedly and incorrectly named floormat problem.
3-I have no faith in the integrity of Toyota and in their capacity to convincingly establish that their entire line of cars is not subjct to erratic electronic control or rather out of control issues.
4- What evidence does anyone have that Toyota has any interest in making current owners whole -in respect to the "value" of our investment and -more importantely the safety of the product- I will never allow younger members of my family to ride in this car- never as in NEVER!
5. I am not a believer in apologies- especially those that are empty gestures, manufactured by hoards of advisers with no comcomitant fix of the problem- the louder, longer, more poignant the apology, the more it looks and sounds like empty posturing

Posted by: 27anon72 | March 1, 2010 8:51 PM
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