Thoroughly Japanese

And I say that as a compliment and with a high level of respect.  For the first time tonight I saw one of the new Toyota commercials that deal with the loss of consumer confidence that has arisen out of the Company’s recent problems with accelerators and now braking-systems in some of its hybrids.  These problems have resulted in immeasurable amounts of negative press coverage, government bungling and grand standing, and doubtlessly fear, anger and upset among its existing customers.  Toyota is trying to repair the damage to both its cars and its mangled image.  Here is that commercial.

In my earlier life as a corporate executive, I had the pleasure of traveling to Japan to work with our business agents and our customers.  The sense of courtesy, honor and integrity that is a part of Japanese culture, particularly in the world of business, is clear when dealing with that culture.  Or, at the very least, that was my experience.  I knew this was the case before traveling there, bur it is especially clear in person.  

For me at least, this commercial oozes with a humble admission of failure that is consistent with their code of business honor.  There is a mea culpa and apology wrapped into one, and it has a sincerity about it that is profound.  And that profundity is even more pronounced in contrast to our culture of victimhood and casting blame everywhere by on one’s self.  I don’t believe an American auto maker would have the courage to make this kind of commercial.  In fact, I dare them to, on the next occasion of a recall on one of their cars.

Toyota still has a rocky road ahead.  Unhappy customers, lawsuits, and lost business await.  But the substance of this commercial, in its own small way, is an indication of a cultural bias toward making things right.  Thoroughly Japanese.

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