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Stupid PR Tricks: Toyota Dealers Recall Ads, to Punish ABC

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Toyota has been making a show of contrition for the acceleration problem that led to a massive recall of several of its models, buying a humbled Super Bowl ad and apologizing publicly. But one group of its dealers is working hard to blow any positive credit the company may have earned, pulling its ads from ABC stations to punish the network for supposedly too-tough coverage of the automaker’s runaway cars.

ABC News reports that the Southeast Toyota group ordered its ads pulled off ABC affiliates and moved to competitors, over the apparent objections of its ad agency, whose representative sent a chagrinned-sounding e-mail to local stations.

This is the last thing Toyota needs, and I can’t imagine why any genius in the dealer group thought that this would help their cause. The dealers, of course are free to spend their ad money wherever they want and for whatever reason. And people who care about companies not being able to bully their way out of bad news are free to, um, shift their own spending.