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With 10 years of Toyota experience under her belt, MadameNoire was happy to sit down with Zoé Zeigler, a marketing and communications professional, and get a behind-the-scenes look on what it takes to apply passion to your career as well as the careers of other women of color in communications.

As assistant manager of corporate marketing & communications for Toyota in North America, Zeigler’s work has earned the company coverage in numerous media outlets including The Today Show, The Huffington Post, AdWeek, and more. While her position as the communication director of ColorComm has allowed Zeigler to foster connections with the women before and behind her.

MadameNoire: How did you get started with Toyota?
Zoé Zeigler: I started with Toyota as an intern in college. After graduation it was really a no-brainer to take the job that was offered because I really enjoyed working there. I truly felt there was a space I could carve out for myself, despite not being a “gear-head.”

MN: That’s a good segue into discovering what you feel you bring to Toyota.
ZZ: Making great and safe cars is only part of our story. One of the biggest ways to really get people interested in your brand is telling the stories around the cars. You want people to view you as a leader, not just from a metal perspective but from a thought leader perspective as well. That’s where my job comes in; I work to merge what our product is with what our business stands for.

MN: Can you give us an example of a story you’ve created around Toyota?
ZZ: One campaign I worked on was called Meals Per Hour. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we took engineers from our manufacturing plant in Kentucky and transplanted them to various food banks. There, they were able to help Food Bank of New York City make minor changes to serve more families. Before us it was taking around three minutes to pack one box of food and three hours to deliver boxes to families. Toyota’s engineers were able to show how small changes can make a big difference (i.e. changing the size of the box or using a conveyor line to pack it). Soon the food bank was packing boxes in 11 seconds and delivering them in an hour and a half. My job was to document this work, done over the course of a month, and figure out how to tell the story.

MN: Did the campaign produce the results you wanted?
ZZ: Definitely. Toyota committed that for every view of our video – a documentary we commissioned the director behind the movie CatFish, Supermarche, to create – it would give one meal back to the food bank. Within 24 hours we had over half a million views and over the course of the campaign it had over a million views total. The campaign did its job showing the humanity behind Toyota in a way that was relevant to people.

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