Over the weekend I talked about some of the sights and sounds at the Washington Auto Show which is going on right now. One of the more curious displays was General Motor’s decision to prominently feature the Chevy Equinox at the front of their turf. While I’m sure it’s a fine car, given all of the very public debate taking place between the White House and Detroit over building cars in America it seemed odd that they would lead off with a vehicle built in Canada.
A friend of mine who was at the show made another discovery which seems to stand in contrast to GM’s decision. There’s a large section on the main floor dedicated to a different company and they really seem to be going all in on promoting the Made in the USA theme for their vehicles. Which of Chevy’s heartland competitors could it be? Before you answer you’ll need to widen your thinking a bit. This is actually the display for… Toyota.
Here’s one of the first things you’ll see when you approach their display.
The name may say “Japan” but the product is all John Wayne, apple pie, baseball and hot dogs. But that’s not some one off example. Let’s see some of Toyota’s other offerings and how they are being branded at one of the biggest auto shows in the nation. What’s this here? Any peeps from Indiana in the house?
Up next, let’s not forget the deep south. Mississippi represent!
Had enough? Oh, we’re not nearly done yet. Toyota’s next offering pays homage to the Lone Star State because what’s more patriotic than that? Oh, and just to put some icing on the cake they are reminding everyone of their American veterans Hire Our Heroes program. (Watch that video if you get a moment. It’s short.)
Rounding out their display we travel to the Bluegrass State because you wouldn’t want to leave Mitch McConnell out of the action.
There you have it. It’s pretty much the entire Toyota display at the Washington Auto Show. Virtually every one of their offerings is putting forth a pair of messages. First, of course, they are promoting the quality, performance and affordability of their product. But they want everyone – from consumers to the White House – to know that they are onboard with the Made in America theme, so don’t be holding that whole Japan thing against them. They’re pitching in to Make America Great again (while obviously still sending a few bucks back home).
One has to wonder how GM didn’t get the memo. Or if they did, might they have simply chosen to ignore it?