Toyota will not be airing any Olympics-themed television commercials on Japanese TV networks in light of the rise in Covid-19 infections and the increasingly polarised public sentiment in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics host country, AP News reported.
This is despite the automaker being one of the top corporate sponsors for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the company also announced that its chief executive officer Akio Toyoda will not be attending the opening ceremony.
The Japanese automaker had voiced concerns over public response to the Olympics as far back as May, Nikkei Asia wrote, when Japanese athletes were already facing calls on social media to speak out against the event. “As a sponsor, we are pained that some people’s anxiety is directed at athletes. We sincerely would like all athletes and people to be able to welcome the Tokyo Games without concern,” Toyota chief communications officer Jun Nagata said.
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That hope has not been found as consumers have turned critical of the Tokyo Olympics, and instead negative tweets containing the words “Olympics” and “Toyota” have outranked positive ones with those keywords, according to a Nikkei study via social media analytics tool Social Insight.
That said, the Japanese manufacturer will still provide 3,340 vehicles, including battery-electric and fuel-cell vehicles for the transport of athletes and staff members, which is almost the same number as originally planned, reported Nikkei Asia. This will also include the provision of robots for use at various venues, and Toyota will still promote on its website the athletes it sponsors.
“There are many issues with these Games that are proving difficult to be understood,” Nagata was quoted as saying to reporters earlier this week. Toyota will continue to support its athletes in the Games nonetheless, Nagata added, and there are around 200 athletes in the Olympics and Paralympics who are affiliated with the Japanese automaker giant, according to the report.
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Meanwhile, the automaker has no plans to change its Olympics marketing plans in the United States, Toyota Motor North America said in a statement.
“The media plan for Toyota’s Olympic and Paralympic global ad campaign is managed by individual companies and regions. In Japan, the local Toyota office previously decided not to air the campaign out of sensitivity to the Covid-19 situation in that country,” the North American division said.
“In the United States, the campaign has already been shown nationally and will continue to be shown as planned with our media partners during the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020,” it continued. At time of writing, the already-delayed Tokyo Olympics are set to go ahead despite the Japanese capital being placed under state of emergency.
Toyota signed with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a worldwide Olympic sponsor in 2015 with a deal spanning from 2017 through 2024 and worth nearly US$1 billion (RM4.23 billion), thus becoming the first carmaker to join the IOC in its top-tier marketing programme, AP News wrote.
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