Thursday, September 15, 2011

Toyota sued for a drunken English soccer hooligan with an anger problem

A California woman has been given permission to sue Toyota over a bizarre advertising campaign that led her to believe she was being stalked by a drunken English soccer hooligan with an anger problem and a pit bull. Back in 2009, Amber Duick received a phone call from a man claiming to be Sebastian Bowler, a 25-year-old English soccer fan who was on a road-trip across the U.S. He'd be at her house in a few days, he said, with plans to stay "til it all blows over," which struck her as rather odd because she had absolutely no idea who he was. Other emails followed, including one about some trouble he'd had at a motel, followed by another from the manager of said hotel which included a bill for a television Bowler had smashed and for which she was now responsible. Duick, understandably, was pretty freaked out, until she received one final email linking to a video explaining that she'd been "punked" - a term I loathe, by the way, with every fiber of my being - as part of the "Your Other You" ad campaign for the Toyota Matrix. Bowler didn't exist; he was one of five fictional characters created for the campaign who would make phone calls and send text messages, emails and videos to unsuspecting consumers. The campaign was aimed at "20-something males," which advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi LA determined "loves to punk their friends," and someone had signed Duick up for it. Once the truth came out, she was no longer freaked - she was pissed. She sued Toyota, Saatchi & Saatchi and 50 individuals associated with the campaign, seeking $10 million for "intentional infliction of emotional distress; unfair, unlawful and deceptive trade practices; and negligent misrepresentation, among other things."

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