“Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel,” is a well-used quote that has been attributed to Mark Twain, Ben Franklin, William Jefferson Clinton, and others. Regardless of its provenance, I have a feeling that Toyota, or at least 173 of its dealers, is going to wish it had heeded that advice.
I say that because Brian Ross, chief investigative correspondent for ABC News and a reporter who has been pushing this story for a relatively long time, revealed this morning that 173 Southeastern Toyota dealers had pulled their ads from local ABC affiliates and shifted the money to other stations, as reported in the New York Times. Those dealers and Toyota might want to consider the hundreds of comments on Brian Ross’ blog. Now the story is about Toyota and its dealers attempting to punish a news organization for attempting to expose something. They merely added fuel to the fire. And the public is not siding with Toyota. The dealers are caught in the middle.
Having said that, I can understand how they feel. How would you like it if a news organization was doing negative reporting about your company and trying to sell advertising to you at the same time? Nevertheless, the news organization has a whole lot more “ink,” so the protest will probably backfire. No, it is backfiring (pun intended).
Look for the next story to be about Toyota’s political contributions.(UPDATED)