Toyota's 100 Cars For Good: Putting Products To Good Use for Others And Themselves

Creating a shift in the practice of capitalism requires a re-framing of thinking and behavior. Often, when you talk exclusively about the changes in corporate thinking, people rightly ask for concrete, actionable examples. When you talk exclusively about practical examples or tactics, they beg the question of the changes in thinking they imply. So my aim is to balance both. That why I have spent the last couple of weeks examining cases studies in a single industry that was once the mainstay of old thinking and behavior – the auto industry.

So far we’ve looked at GMC’s  partnership with InvisiblePeople.tv, Buick’s Achiever Scholarships and today’ I’d like to share the work of Toyota’s 100 cars initiative. The aim of showcasing different purposeful tactics is to demonstrate the variety of choice open to every company and to encourage creativity in the way they bring their core values to life.

What’s interesting and inspiring about the Toyota 100 cars program is its combination of crowdsourcing and support for non-profits. The way it works is this.

Five nonprofit organizations will be profiled on Toyota’s Facebook page each day (http://www.facebook.com/toyota) from Monday, May 9 – August 16. People are encouraged to vote each day to help determine winners. Then one vehicle will be awarded each day through August 16 for a total of 100 vehicles.

Each of the 500 nonprofit organizations selected as finalists have created an online profile, which may include a video showcasing how the organization plans to use a new Toyota vehicle to do good in their local community. Voters may place one vote per day, each day, over the course of the program.

Importantly, the 500 finalists were chosen by an independent panel of judges who are experts in the fields of philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. The finalists represent non-profit organizations servicing the community across a broad range of categories including animal welfare, arts, education, environment, health, safety and human services, among others.

So by using crowdsourcing, Toyota gives its customers a way to support organizations whose work is meaningful to them. So not only does such a campaign demonstrate Toyota’s commitment to doing work that is meaningful to their customers, it demonstrates a recognition by Toyota that their customers want to be a part of the process.

It’s this marriage of purposeful marketing that benefits a company’s bottom line and society at large that has so much potential to our response to the challenges our world faces. Every effort by a brand, large or small,  is important because it contributes to a shift in the behavior of companies towards a combined effort by brands and consumers to build a better world.

So support the work of the non-profit whose work means the most to you by visiting http://www.facebook.com/toyota. What other ways do you think brand should participate in social change? Does such work affect the way you feel about that brand?

Reprinted from SimonMainwaring.com

Simon Mainwaring is a branding consultant, advertising creative director, blogger, speaker, and author of the recently released We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World. A former Nike creative at Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, and worldwide creative director for Motorola at Ogilvy, he now consults for brands and creative companies that are re-inventing their industries and enabling positive change. Follow him at SimonMainwaring.com or on Twitter @SimonMainwaring.

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