Toyota : Expressing sympathy
An oversight gets in the way of an important message.
Toyota, one of Japan’s leading car makers, has replaced its regular home page content in light of the country’s devastating earthquake but overlooked one intrusive element.
Toyota’s corporate home page dropped its lead item following the massive earthquake that hit Japan on 11 March. Both on the Japanese- and English-language versions it has posted a message that takes up the top half of the content area. The message offers sympathy to the victims and their relatives, mentions its own extended connections in the affected region (production facilities and supply chain partners) and pledges that “we want to do all we can to contribute to the relief efforts”. It is signed by the company president, Akio Toyoda.
On the English-language version the message is mostly obscured on page launch, however, by an overlay request for cooperation in helping with an opinion survey “in order to improve Toyota’s website”. The survey seems to be presented randomly, so not every visitor will automatically see it every time, but those who do must click to close the overlay and reveal the earthquake message beneath.
It risks appearing churlish or disrespectful to criticise the way Toyota has implemented its earthquake message on its home page, especially when it is the only one of the five Japanese companies in the current FT Bowen Craggs Index to have interrupted business as usual on its corporate site in this way. It is to its credit both in simple human terms and in showing an appreciation of what part a website can contribute in conveying a message quickly and widely in such circumstances that it has done so.
And yet. The oversight – surely it is one? – in leaving the online survey to run and override the message on the English-language site for at least a proportion of visitors does detract from the intention. Managing the detail at a time such as this must be more difficult than ever, but getting it wrong can have no less unfortunate and unwanted consequences.http://www.toyota-global.com
First published on 15 March, 2011