2013 Toyota CrownWe’d be hard-pressed to think of a bigger PR disaster for an automotive brand than the largest car recall in history followed by a massive tsunami wreaking untold damage on international supply chains. Heck, we didn’t even mention this valuable lesson about the dangers of automated spam messaging or this misguided effort to raise brand awareness among toddlers.

And yet, 2012 sales numbers tell us that Toyota has already recovered from a wide-reaching scandal that started in 2009 with reports of “technical difficulties” in its vehicles and ended with the recall of more than seven million individual automobiles. In fact, the Japanese company ended the year by reclaiming its place as the world’s most successful car maker.

Toyota obviously wanted to get people talking in 2013, so it came out swinging with a re-branding initiative fronted by a hot pink “executive” sedan. Japanese CEOs and their teenage daughters now have one more thing in common…a favorite color! Did someone invite Hello Kitty reps to participate in creative strategy meetings?

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