Toyota faces up to Olympics dilemma, but its driverless shuttles will get noticed, says GlobalData

Following the news that Toyota has decided not to run Olympics-related TV commercials in Japan;

David Leggett, Automotive Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“The 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been devastated by the impact of the pandemic and the public health crisis has recently deepened in Japan. Not only have the Games been put back a year, but the near absence of spectators and ongoing concerns over the potential impact of athletes and officials on infection rates in Japan ensure a troubled backdrop for corporate sponsors such as Toyota.

“In normal times, the Olympic Games are a perfect platform for raising brand and product awareness, but Toyota’s decision not to run Olympics-related ads on Japanese TV illustrates how sensitive it is to significant negative public sentiment at this time. In addition to the TV ads being pulled, chief executive Akio Toyoda will not now be attending the opening ceremony.

“After spending big to line-up as an official Olympics sponsor, the Games themselves have presented Toyota and others with a dilemma in terms of being heavily associated with it.

“That said, this pandemic-era Tokyo Olympics has yet to play out and sponsoring companies will undoubtedly benefit from positive associations and media coverage. Olympics-related TV ads for Toyota in the U.S. will run, for example, underlining the Olympics’ global audience reach. Moreover, Toyota will be providing a fleet of thousands of vehicles – including its autonomous electric shuttle, e-Pallete – to move athletes and officials around. They are bound to get noticed.

“Toyota is striking a balance, but clearly very mindful of mixed sentiment in Japan over hosting the Games at this time.”

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