Toyota is tightly walking the line between humanitarian efforts, and shameless social-media marketing with a new Youtube campaign video. In the video, Toyota profiles a food bank in New York City. The food bank tries hard, but workers admit that there is not always enough food for every hungry family in line. Luckily, Toyota sends a team of its own employees to help out. With Toyota’s help, the packing team cuts down their box-packing time from three minutes to eight seconds.
Next, happy music cuts in and the hungry of New York are saved! Employees at the plant congratulate themselves on a job well done, a wacky fun picture is taken, and everything is great! The message in the video is wonderful, and it seems like Toyota really did help hungry families in need. The fact that for every view Toyota will donate food means that overall this is a wonderful video.
So why does watching it still feel kind of gross?
I suppose the part that threw me off were the not-so-subtle flashes of Toyota cars spliced in between happy music and bright-eyed children. At the end of the day, Toyota is a company that sells cars, and thus, this service work is an advertisement.
I think a problem I have is with how arranged the video feels. The food bank needs help, Toyota shows up, they say some boxes could be filled better, everything is perfect. In reality, Poverty and hunger are not issues that can be fixed via a few days of supply-chain training.
Toyota wants this video to go viral, obviously. The free food per click idea is brilliant, but like everything else in the video, it’s hard to see where humanitarian aid stops, and corporate manipulation starts.
Ah, screw it. Even if Toyota is just doing this to pop some sales, some needy people will get to eat because of it. Pass this video around, and try not to think too hard about it like I did.