I’m sorry if what I did upset you…

One of my rules of parenting is that I don’t my kids say they’re sorry if they hurt something.  They have to take responsibility for their actions, check on that person, see if they can do something to help the person they’ve hurt, but they don’t have to say sorry unless they’re really sorry.  The point of saying you’re sorry is to take responsibility for what you’ve done, but if you’re not really sorry you shouldn’t have to say it, and face it a lot of times kids mean to hurt each other, they’re not sorry, but they are responsible.

A lot of apologies these days take the form of “I’m sorry if my [insert action here] offended/upset/hurt anyone….” That’s not a real apology, that’s not taking responsibility for what happened, that’s putting the blame on the hurt party.

Which brings me to Toyota.

Toyota never says they made a mistake, they never say sorry, they’re spinning the issue.  Instead of taking responsibility, they’re saying they’re fixing things.  They say “Great companies learn [from their mistakes]” but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what Toyota has learned? They don’t tell you in this ad.  Compare this “apology” with the GM ad, which not an apology was an admission that the company had lost its way.

GM owns their mistakes, Toyota glosses over them, we’re fixing it see?  They say they’re rebuilding trust, but how can they without actually taking responsibility first?  In that major way, Toyota fails the first test of any ad and especially an apology ad, they’re not being authentic — heck they’re not even saying the right things.

It seems the same strategy that got Toyota in trouble in the first place is behind this ad.  I tell a story to folks that my mom told me about my dad: On day lounging at home he got a call, “Mr Strasberg, we’re calling for President Nixon’s campaign.”

“Yes,” my Dad answered.

“We’d like you to help the President appear more truthful.”

“That’s easy,” my dad answered, “Have him tell the truth.” And he hung up the phone.

Toyota could learn something from that story.

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