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Toyota is replacing the melted truck of a Paradise fire hero

Turns out you can earn a huge brand image win by doing the right thing.

Toyota is replacing the melted truck of a Paradise fire hero
A home is overshadowed by towering smoke plumes as the Camp fire races through town in Paradise, California. [Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images]

Four days ago, Paradise, California, nurse Allyn Pierce posted a picture of his damaged truck to Instagram, with a message of gratitude to his crispy vehicle.

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According to reporting by the New York Times‘s Jack Nicas, in a pretty epic Twitter thread (seriously, read it right now), Pierce was stuck in traffic, surrounded by flames, trying to evacuate Paradise, but then decided to turn back and help those unable to leave.

It didn’t take Toyota long to see the story and offer Pierce a free new truck. It’s a relatively small gesture amid all the destruction and tragedy, but it’s a valuable one that says two significant things about the brand: It’s listening and is quick to do the right thing. Obviously an automobile company can’t replace everyone’s car in every situation, but Pierce’s story is an awe-inspiring one, and the brand recognized it and reacted. Read through the comments on Pierce’s Instagram feed to see how the saga made people feel. That is brand engagement.

Toyota hasn’t responded to a request for comment, but we’ll update the story if and when we hear back.

UPDATE: A Toyota spokesperson told Fast Company, “Our hearts go out to the victims of the devastating California wild fires. We are extremely grateful to all of the emergency crews who are working tirelessly to extinguish the fires and helping people to safety. We are especially thankful to one hero in particular, Allyn Pierce, for risking his life and sacrificing his Toyota Tundra to drive people to safety. Toyota is so humbled by Mr. Pierce’s selfless act that we’re pleased to offer him a brand new Tundra.”

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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