Olympic sponsor Toyota runs game-related TV advertising in Japan
TOKYO (AP) – Toyota will not air Olympic commercials on Japanese television during the Tokyo Games, despite being one of the IOC’s top corporate sponsors.
The extraordinary decision by the country’s leading automaker underscores how polarizing the Games have become in Japan as COVID-19 infections rise ahead of the opening ceremony on Friday.
“There are many issues with these games that are proving difficult to understand,” Jun Nagata, Toyota’s chief communications officer, told reporters on Monday.
CEO Akio Toyoda, the founder’s grandson, will skip the opening ceremony. And that’s despite the fact that about 200 athletes take part in the Olympic and Paralympic Games associated with Toyota, including swimmer Takeshi Kawamoto and softball player Miu Goto.
Nagata said the company will continue to support its athletes.
As a corporate sponsor for the Olympic Games, it’s usually about using the Games as a platform to strengthen the brand. However, the association with games from the pandemic era can be viewed by some as a potential marketing problem.
Masa Takaya, a Tokyo 2020 spokesman, said sponsors each make their own decisions about their messages.
“There is mixed public opinion about the Games,” said Takaya.
“I have to emphasize that these partners and companies have been very supportive of Tokyo 2020. You are passionate about making these games a reality. “
The company has no plans to adjust its Olympic marketing plans in the US
“The media plan for Toyota’s global Olympic and Paralympic advertising campaign is managed by individual countries and regions. In Japan, the local Toyota office previously decided not to broadcast the campaign out of sensitivity to the COVID-19 situation in that country, ”Toyota Motor North America said in a statement. “In the USA, the campaign has already been shown nationwide and will continue to be shown as planned with our media partners during the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”
Toyota Motor Corp. signed an 8-year contract valued at nearly $ 1 billion as a global Olympic sponsor in 2015, becoming the first automaker to join the IOC’s high-level marketing program.
The sponsorship, which began globally in 2017, runs through the 2024 Olympics and includes three consecutive Asian Olympics, including the Tokyo Games.
The Olympic Games in Tokyo, which have already been postponed by a year, will take place in the Japanese capital despite the state of emergency.
It’s already practically a TV Olympics, with most of the events, including the opening ceremony, taking place with no fans in the venues. Some dignitaries such as IOC President Thomas Bach and Emperor Naruhito are likely to attend.
Toyota is one of the most trusted brands in Japan. The manufacturer of the luxury models Prius Hybrid and Lexus prides itself on its quality controls and its highly efficient “just in time” production methods, which are praised and imitated worldwide.
Public opinion polls reflect widespread concern among the Japanese that tens of thousands of Olympians are entering the country during a pandemic. Some have already tested positive for COVID.
Motoyuki Niitsuma, a factory worker who knocked on a bucket at a recent protest in Tokyo against the Olympics, said he doesn’t like the idea of cheering the national team on and the pandemic has made that message clear.
“The time of competition is over. Now is the time to work together, ”he said. “We should never have got the games.”
AP videographer Johnson Lai contributed to this report.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/Olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports