TOYOTA TOOTH JEWEL PROMOTION RANKLES JESSE JACKSON

Charges Firm With 'Racial Insensitivity'

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson has charged Toyota with provoking outrage and indignation among African-Americans by
Postcard photo of golden Toyota worn as tooth jewel.
distributing a postcard promotion featuring a golden tooth jewel shaped like a Toyota sports utility vehicle.

Rev. Jackson, president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, lashed out at the automaker at a press conference Monday.

Toyota said it canceled the campaign May 14 and pulled all remaining cards from racks "before the company learned of any concerns from Rainbow/PUSH." The company apologized to anyone offended by the promotion.

The postcard, from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Torrance, Calif., showed a smiling mouth on an obviously black face with a gold 2001 RAV4 SUV on a front tooth.

'Racial insensitivity'
Rev. Jackson said "as Toyota's profits continue to climb, so does its obligation to market its products and services in a professional and respectful manner. The creation and placement of offensive marketing materials speaks to the persistent problem of racial and cultural insensitivity."

In a statement issued today, Toyota said the postcard was aimed at presenting the SUV as a "styling statement to a young and very trendy audience. As an emerging trend tooth art is associated with other leading-edge fashion statements, such as body jewelry and tattoos, especially in the entertainment world."

The postcard was one of three Toyota placed in racks this spring at trendy spots in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Miami. Each set had 420,000 units. The "gold tooth" card was the last in the series, available through May 14.

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