Toyota’s terror marketing backfires

This month in California, Amber Duik sued Saatchi & Saatchi for US$10 million for terrorising her as part of a campaign for Toyota.

sebastian bowlerDuik claims she was harrassed by emails from a man called Sebastian Bowler, who said he was on the run from the police, knew where she lived and was coming to her house to hide. ‘English football hooligan’ Bowler even had a MySpace page.

BNET reports how the emails played out:

The first message said: “Amber Mate. Coming to Los Angeles. Gonna lay low at your place for a bit. Till it all blows over. Bringing Trigger.”

The second message included Duik’s address, followed by the comment, “Looks all right mate! Nice place to hide out. We don’t need much though. Just a couch and a telly. Trigger don’t throw up much anymore, but put some newspaper down in case.”

This was followed by messages in which Bowler described trashing a hotel room and run-ins with police

The final message stated: “Amber Mate. Had a brush with the law last night. Anyway, hopefully I will have lost them by the time I get to your place. Can’t wait to see you.”

Duik claims she was “constantly in tears and shaking and sobbing in emotional distress”, couldn’t work and told neighours, friends and family about the man she feared. ABC News also reports she made her boyfriend sleep with a club and mace next to the bed for protection.

The truth is that Saatchi did run a “punked”-style marketing campaign to launch the Toyota Matrix. The rather ill-conceived idea was to get people to nominate a friend to be stalked and harrassed for five days.

toyotaView the ad here.

Toyota’s defense? Amber Duik had taken some online survey in which the fine print gave them permission to send her “marketing and other communications”.

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