While various commentators are having a field day and even invoking Australian values (yesterday, item 4), it’s not actually clear whether there has been any overt complaint from Toyota itself regarding the hovering Holden blimp at the AFL Grand Final.

Any loud public expression of concern is highly unlikely, in my opinion. You see, only five years ago Toyota employed controversial tactics against Holden that were seen at the time as “ambush marketing”, in a campaign I’m sure no-one at Holden has forgotten.

Greg Norman, after having been used by Holden as endorser of its Statesman luxury sedan range for several years, switched allegiance to the Toyota Avalon in 2001, for a sum reckoned at the time to be $10 million (as reported by Joshua Dowling at the time). The TV advertisement that launched Norman’s involvement featured a weekend hacker so over-awed by Norman’s arrival at the tee that he duffs his drive into the car park, smashing the window of a Holden Statesman. He apologises profusely to Norman, who reassures the wayward swinger that the Statesman is not his – “Mine’s the Toyota”.

Various noises were made at the time about the potential for Holden to sue Toyota for misleading and deceptive conduct under s52 of the Trade Practices Act, but (to my knowledge) it never made it anywhere near the Federal Court.

So, while the blimp may be sailing close to the wind, a strident complaint from Toyota might be seen as the pot calling the kettle black… and how un-Australian would that be?!

Peter Fray

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