NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Perhaps Tiger Woods could take a tip on damage control from Toyota ( TM) president Akio Toyoda -- at least on how not to make the world dislike you and what you stand for even more.

Granted, their respective situations are not exactly analogous. Still, lessons can be gleaned from both televised speeches.

While both clearly should have volunteered to make a formal public apology to the world much sooner -- Tiger waited for three months before his, and Toyoda at first balked at the idea of a testimony on Capitol Hill -- at least Toyoda spoke with emotion. He even shed tears when addressing dealers after the hearing.

All of which is a prelude to the poll question we posed to our readers last week, namely: What are your opinions of Toyota, in light of Toyoda's testimony? The largest proportion of voters, 41.1%, agreed with the response "I trust Toyota cars as much as I did before," while 30.6% agreed with the statement "I'm less trusting of Toyota cars now."

About 11.4% of voters -- somewhat incongruously -- said they trust Toyota cars even more than before the testimony.

But Toyoda's prepared testimony didn't impress everyone, actually bolstering rival Ford ( F) in the eyes of a proportion of our poll respondents. The statement "my impression of Ford has, by comparison, improved," elicited agreement from 17% of the voters.

The ramifications of Tiger's televised apology, on the other hand, were simply bad all around. Tiger's public perception dropped on pretty much every front.

"I think the sincerity of it is being questioned," said Matt Delzell, a director at Davie-Brown Entertainment, a unit of Omnicom ( OMC). "It was too scripted. It felt like it was written by somebody else."

Meanwhile, equity analyst Efraim Levy at Standard & Poor's has raised his guidance and price target for Toyota, "with our outlook for improving global demand, and on TM's continued cost cutting, albeit weighed down by vehicle quality concerns and related increases in marketing costs."

And while Tiger retreated after his speech, Toyoda and Toyota decided to launch a massive offensive against its critics, including a one-time employee who handed congressional investigators internal company papers that cast the company in an unfavorable light, according to the Wall Street Journal. Toyota is presenting reporters with evidence that this former employee has had a history of psychological illness and unsatisfactory performance evaluations, WSJ reports.

The report also says Toyota is simultaneously gathering resources to battle more than 70 law suits looking for class-action status and a series of other law suits.

Meanwhile, in a major press event set for March 8, and an address to 1,000 suppliers set for March 9, Toyota is launching a major counterattack in defense of its electronic throttle system, bringing in outside experts like the head of Stanford University's auto-research center, to point out the faults in a study implying that defective electronics were a major cause of the sudden acceleration problems, according to WSJ.

Ironically enough, Tiger Woods, of course, attended Stanford University before turning back in 1996. Perhaps Tiger could find someone there to deliver a statement on his behalf, too.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York


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