Toyota marketing created some kind of ill-conceived alternate reality game whose premise was that you were being stalked by an unhinged criminal who sent you threatening emails saying that he was coming to your house, backstopped by things like MySpace profiles and even angry bills from hotels he trashed on the way, having given your name as the payment contact. A woman didn't realize that these were a marketing prank and thought she was being stalked, got scared, lived her life in fear, and then sued.
Toyota's defense? The woman had taken some online survey in which the fine print gave them permission to send her "marketing and other communications."
Duick's attorney said the marketing company went so far as to send Duick a bill for damages the fictitious man supposedly made to a hotel room...
The alleged harassment lasted five days, according to the suit, and frightened Duick so much she contacted neighbors, friends and family, and the occupant of her former home about the man she feared was coming to visit. Her attorney declined to comment as to whether or not she called the police. She even made her longtime boyfriend sleep with a club and mace next to the bed for protection...
It turns out the prank was actually part of a marketing effort executed by the Los Angeles division of global marketing agency Saatchi & Saatchi, which created the campaign to promote the Toyota Matrix, a new model launched in 2008...
Tepper, Duick's attorney, said he discussed the campaign with Toyota's attorneys earlier this year, and they said the "opting in" Harp referred to was done when Duick's friend e-mailed her a "personality test" that contained a link to an "indecipherable" written statement that Toyota used as a form of consent from Duick.
Tepper, said that during those legal negotiations, Toyota's lawyers claimed Duick signed the written legal agreement, which they said amounts to "informed written consent."
Woman Sues Toyota Over 'Terrifying' Prank
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