Toyota Motor Corp., a major sponsor of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has decided to pull all of its Olympics-related TV commercials in Japan.
Japanese media speculated on Monday that the decision was made because the automaker feared that association with the troubled Summer Games, which are deeply unpopular in Japan, would tarnish its brand rather than restore it.
“The Olympics are becoming an event that has not won public understanding,” a Toyota public relations officer surnamed Nagata told the Japanese daily. Yomiuri Monday newspaper. The executive added that Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda and other senior executives would not attend the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Summer Olympics on July 23.
Toyota planned to air a series of television commercials in Japan featuring company-sponsored Olympic athletes.
Now media analysts will be watching whether the move by Japanese business titan Toyota causes other local sponsors and advertisers to distance themselves from the Games. Collectively, some five dozen Japanese companies have spent more than $3 billion to sponsor the Tokyo Olympics, the largest contribution ever made by companies from an Olympic host country.
The possibility of Japanese brands pulling out of the Games has been a matter of speculation for weeks thanks to the bitter feelings many Japanese residents have towards the event.
As Tokyo is under its fourth state of emergency amid a surge in cases of the delta variant of COVID-19, there are still public fears that staging an event involving tens of thousands of athletes, officials and journalists entering the country from all over the world endangers the lives of local residents. residents.
Olympic organizers reported more than 25 positive coronavirus tests over the weekend among people who had traveled to Japan for the Games – including two athletes and an organizer staying in the Olympic Village, where thousands of participants gather. will gather soon. Meanwhile, a Ugandan weightlifter has reportedly disappeared from his hotel and is on the loose somewhere in Osaka prefecture, despite promises by organizers to keep athletes and guests in an Olympic ‘bubble’ throughout the Games.
In a poll released Monday by the asahi newspaper, 68% of respondents said they doubted the ability of Olympic organizers to control coronavirus infections, while 55% said they were opposed to the Games going ahead as planned.
With the Games set to start in four days, just over 20% of the Japanese public is fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.
In addition to television advertising, many of Japan’s major Olympic sponsors planned to hold large-scale on-field marketing activities to build excitement for their brands amid the excitement of the event. Those plans were shattered two weeks ago, however, when Olympic organizers announced that spectators would be banned from almost all Olympic venues.
Fifteen Japanese companies, including Asahi Breweries – the official beer of the Tokyo Olympics – have paid around $135 million each to become Tokyo 2020 Gold Partners, the most expensive level of sponsorship offered to local businesses for a single Games.
Meanwhile, Japan and its taxpayers are said to have spent more than $26 billion to host the Games, including additional cost overruns due to the one-year postponement.
When Tokyo hosted the 2020 Summer Olympics in 2013, organizers projected that spectators, mostly incoming foreign tourists, would spend around $2 billion on tickets, hotels, meals, and merchandise; and that the word-of-mouth effect of foreign influx and attention, what economists have called “legacy effects,” would generate an additional $10 billion in inbound tourism spending over the next decade. . Under the current restrictions, however, almost all of these expected economic benefits for Japan have long since disappeared.