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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Here's my @toyotausa commercial. This truck literally saved my life today. My little town of Paradise was literally burning down around me and @the_pandra got me to safety where I could help others…twice. #campfire #perfectmarshmellow #meltedplastics #buttecountyfire #sema2019 thanks to the fire fighters, law enforcement and my fellow healthcare workers for the work we all did getting the hospital evacuated and our patients to safety. ????????????
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.
Here's the crazy story of just one of the many heroes in Paradise, the town destroyed by California's deadliest fire ever. His name is Allyn Pierce, and he's the badass nurse who drove this truck through the flames. pic.twitter.com/xAL7zRf34H
— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) November 13, 2018
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.”