“Thank you. May you have yet another ‘One and Only’ day.” - Akio Toyoda
On June 27th, a Toyota advertisement appeared on the front page of all morning newspapers across Japan. The ad featured a hand-written message by Akio Toyoda starting with the words “Thank you” found just below the Toyota brand mark.
Words embody Akio’s aspirations: “A One and Only Day”
“The One and Only Toyota” expressed Toyota’s “Customer First” attitude
The origin of the currently running newspaper ad campaign dates back half a century to 1969. At that time, Toyota in Japan and the Toyota National Dealers' Advisory Council made the following joint statement through the use of a printed advertisement:
The one and only Toyota for every customer.
Each and every one of us here at Toyota cherishes these words every day as we strive to create and deliver even better cars.
Published on Oct. 6, 1969 in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun
English translation (for reference only):
Toyota’s sales team isn’t just selling cars. We are also participating in the design of an even-better car by receiving valuable feedback from our customers.
“The One and Only Toyota” campaign was published as a series over three months in 12 installments featuring articles and photographs showing how various Toyota employees, such as the sales teams, new model engineers, test drivers, production site managers and facility maintenance teams, have dedicated their work to the principle of “Customer First.”
The last installment of the series featured a conversation between then Chairman Taizo Ishida of Toyota and then Chairman Konosuke Matsushita of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (present-day Panasonic Corporation) regarding the “importance of listening to the voices of customers,” and displayed an image of an earnest company working sincerely to place and serve the “customer first.”
Rebooting a return to Toyota’s “Unwavering Principles”
In 2007, after around 40 years, this ad campaign was rebooted. The initial series in 1969 told the story from a car production perspective. However, the reboot of the campaign in 2007 shifted to focus on the staff at dealerships.
The one and only Toyota for every customer:
For generations, each and every one of us at Toyota has shared this desire. Something that will always be the same in any era.
The ads featuring the above copy in the campaign shared true stories about dealership staff members interacting with their customers along with photos or of staff members working, either alone or with others.
English translation (for reference only):
We, Toyota’s service engineers, Are skilled technicians, but
We must also be good consultants.
In order to provide good service,
We try not to overlook
Even the smallest of concerns from our customers.
This is from two or three months ago, but
A customer concerned with a faint noise came into our dealership.
When asked what type of noise it was and when it was heard,
They thought it would be faster to have the engineer take the vehicle out for a drive.
Together, we traveled around the block to confirm the sound.
Having the engineer hear it and understand the problem was just what was needed.
“Thank you for the willingness to drive the car” is what the customer said.
Seeing the customer’s first look of concern change completely, made me also feel relaxed.
It expected that we want to polish our act for maintenance and repairs,
But more than anything, I want to put the customers’ feelings first.
We, Toyota’s service engineers, are always thinking of ways to bring a smile to our customers’ faces, and we’ll continue doing that step-by-step into the future.
At the time of this campaign, Akio was managing domestic marketing as Vice President and was responsible for creating this ad campaign together with the The campaign started in 2007 was in flight for 15 installments over two years until the end of 2009.
In October 2009, Akio told a story about this ad campaign during a luncheon at the Japan Press Club, as recorded below.
This is a reboot of an ad campaign that came out 40 years ago, in 1969.
No doubt you get the impression that the copy used is exactly the same.
While we were visiting dealers to get their feedback, the dealer principal of one of the dealerships showed an ad to us, saying, “Toyota used to make advertisements like this.” I believe this dealer was trying to ask us if Toyota remembered this sentiment.
Even after selling 7 or 8 million cars, we still must remember that each customer is equally important. I can say that this is my business philosophy.
2009 was heavily impacted by the global financial crisis that happened the previous year, and Toyota’s financial results fell to a loss for the first time ever, all immediately prior to Akio assuming his current post.
Although the ad campaign first appeared while unit sales were increasing, Akio was feeling the necessity to revisit Toyota’s “unwavering principles” of valuing each and every customer.
After Akio became president, Toyota started to recover from the loss while adhering to its principles.
The ad campaign proposal included the idea of enhancing the company image and featured personal instructions from Akio to create ads that staff working at the frontlines would be happy about and customer-friendly ads to help increase the pride of working as a member of the sales staff.
In 2007, a sense of distrust in companies was beginning to grow among the public in Japan due to scandalous revelations of things like “food fraud. The revelations exposed to the public that information about certain products that they thought were true, including things such as the product’s production site, expiration date and ingredients, had been falsified. As such, the sentiment inside Toyota was that it was increasingly important to inspire those on the frontline interfacing with customers, including the sales staff working at dealerships, and preserve the public’s trust in Toyota.
Renewed Goals with “A One and Only Day”
13 years later, and now a half century has passed since the initial ad campaign. Now, the “One and Only Car” will be rebooted as the “One and Only Day.” The world’s relationship to cars has changed drastically since the two ad campaigns first appeared. With increased demand for things like car-sharing and subscription services that cater to individual lifestyle needs, the desire to own a car can no longer be assumed to be a given.
The first installment of the ad campaign focuses on how Toyota is committed to working towards bringing the concept of “One and Only Day” to the towns that have dealerships, but, starting from the second installment, it will shift focus and introduce true stories shared by customers about their experiences with Toyota’s sales staff in Japan.
Rather than increasing sales or comparing results among dealers, the idea is solely to convey Toyota’s values by relating the stories of the sales staff who work closely with each and every customer they meet.
English translation (for reference only):
Today at the Toyota dealers, staff members think about the happiness of the local society.
What can we do to make our customers smile?
A one and only phrase.
A one and only person.
A one and only Toyota.
Perhaps happiness begins when we feel something is irreplaceable.
So what should we do?
If someone is in need, we help them.
Think of ways to make the person in front of you smile.
Be polite and thorough when handling what seems to be the obvious.
And sometimes it’s time to try and change the obvious.
Think of others’ happiness
As if they are your own happiness.
Use your abilities for others
Not for yourself.
More than as a “customer”,
We wish to connect more deeply with people.
Grateful, appreciated, we want a strong connection that moves the heart.
Serious in the efforts we make,
For the sake of a “one and only” in this and every town’s day.
This is our vision at Toyota.
In the company’s financial results announcement back in May this year, Akio elaborated on the word “happiness” that appears repeatedly in the advertisement.
Toyota is a global monozukuri company born in Japan and raised in the world.
I believe that our mission is to provide goods and services that make people throughout the world happy, or, in other words, to "mass produce" happiness.
To achieve that, I believe that it is necessary to cultivate Toyota people in the world who can wish for and take action for the happiness of those other than themselves.
That means developing human resources that have what I like to call a "YOU perspective".
To this is what I will devote my own heart and soul, for the "COVID-19 era" and "post-COVID-19 era."
Toyota dealers have worked closely with customers where they do business to provide happiness.
Toyota’s unwavering and cherished principles embodied in the “One and Only Toyota” are seen afresh—not only from the perspective of cars, but also through the act of supporting local communities to cultivate their one and only lives day by day.