Up until August, 2009, Toyota had become the premier automobile manufacturer in the world. Through its “relentless pursuit of perfection” (Toyota’s Lexus brand’s marketing slogan), Toyota enjoyed increasing sales and profitability through its successful efforts to serve its customers better than its competition.
In August, a horrendous car crash involving a family driving a Lexus automobile killed the driver, Mark Saylor, a California Highway Patrol officer, his wife and daughter, and his brother-in-law. A recording of a passenger’s frantic 911 call, lasting 52 seconds, was broadcast throughout the media and pushed Toyota into the unwelcome and unaccustomed spotlight of negative public attention. That attention continues today.