Toyota, the ‘best built cars in the world’? Ad watchdog not so sure – Irish Times

Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Toyota has been told to stop claiming that its cars are the “best built” in the world by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) which said such a notion “could never be fully proven”.

In its latest bulletin, the ASAI said a number of consumer complaints were received regarding television and radio advertising for Toyota which states it produces “the best built cars in the world”.

The complaints – which came from anonymous individuals – centred on the question of the claim’s compatibility with widely publicised vehicle recalls.

In response to the ruling, Toyota accused the watchdog of “dancing on a pin head”. It also noted that the finding cannot be appealed.

The company’s ad agency outlined what it believes are the key elements of Toyota’s success and also submitted a range of international publications and reports which it said substantiated the claims.

The agency pointed out that Toyota “dominates annual quality awards and value for money rankings”. It also said Toyota vehicles “were known for holding their value better than its competitors’ products”.

The case for the defence also said Toyota had “literally revolutionised manufacturing, process engineering, and quality, setting new standards for operational excellence”.

‘Superlative’

The ASAI acknowledged the information Toyata submitted, and said “a very high level of substantiation would be required to prove a ‘superlative’ claim such as ‘best built’ particularly in the context of it being ‘in the world’”.

Its finding went on to say that it considered it was “difficult to envisage the circumstances in which a claim of this magnitude could ever be fully proven” and it noted that “no independent tests evaluating all the car brands available in the world had been submitted”.

It upheld the complaint and asked Toyota not to use the claim again.

Whilst the ASAI code is voluntary and has no legal standing, it would be a source of recurring embarrasment for Toyota were it found to consistently be in breach of that code. There is no sanction but in the short term at any rate it will most likely adhere to the ruling.

Toyota pointed out that the ASAI undertook its enquiry “following an initial complaint by Owens DDB on behalf of Toyota’s largest competitor Volkswagen, who subsequently withdrew the complaint in late 2015” as well as “a very small number of individual consumer complaints”.

Steve Tormey, chief executive of Toyota Ireland, said the company was “absolutely bemused by this ruling” and the ASAI’s refusal to allow an appeal.

He said the decision “is all the more baffling given we have been using the proposition in the Irish market for 20 years” and that the ASAI had repeatedly accepted Toyota’s substantiation for the brand.

“It would appear to us they are dancing on a pin head as regards the use of the English language and common sense, particularly given that the independent automotive industry expert commissioned by the ASAI expressed the viewpoint that the proposition had been substantiated in relation to the ‘Best Built Mass Produced Cars in the World.’”

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