Feb 23

Is Toyota this decade’s Enron?

The latest terror suspect Najibullah Zazi, as well as the makers of Avandia and hot dogs have to be breathing a little easier this morning (well, at least the Avandia and hot dog makers are).

February 23 All three were caught in the crosshairs of breaking crises, but avoided being the lead item on nightly news and talk shows thanks to good, old Toyota.

Good and old are apt descriptors for the automaker. I say that because Toyota's management is practicing what was once considered smart management and crisis communications in the good, old days. Denial, obfuscation and evasiveness worked well in the dark, distant past. But that was then and this is now.

Silence seems to be the watchword of Toyota's communications strategy today. This, despite mounting evidence that their entire line of cars is stricken with a fatal flaw: an accelerator that doesn't have a fail safe mechanism.

As a result, politicians, consumer watchdog groups and investigative journalists alike are salivating like Pavlov's dog at the prospect of bringing down a big, bad business caught being a big, bad business. It's a Hollywood movie plot that screams out for the likes of Michael Douglas, Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman in the lead roles.

And, it also goes to show that all the public relations and advertising in the world are meaningless if the product is rotten and the company's leaders are caught covering up the damage. All of which leads to my question of the day: Will Toyota be this decade's Enron?