Tag Archives: Toyota

Auto Brands Tease the Big Game

It’s more than a week before the Super Bowl and the carmakers advertising in the Super Bowl are rolling out their teasers and actual commercials. Smartly, the brands are upping their exposure  in social media.

Volkswagen of America just released this 1:30 gem teaser it calls “Get Happy,” starring Jamaican regaee legend Jimmy Cliff

 

Love the crying “cat lady” and the whole spot just makes you smile. VW is very smart to push its own web site, vw.com, where it is offering downloads of this exclusive track and directing viewers to #GetHappy. Kudos to Deutsch Los Angeles.

Of course the teaser isn’t necessarily what VW will air in the game on Sunday, Feb. 3. VW fooled us all last year with a whacky teaser of dogs barking the “Star Wars” theme, then in the game ran a Beetle spot of a dog getting in shape so it could chase the car. I do know VW will air a brand spot in the Big Game.

Here it is

I think I prefer the teaser.

“You can be a little bit crazier with the teasers,” CMO and chief product officer Tim Mahoney, told me. And since he’s arrived at VW in spring 2011 he said he and his team has learned that “you can stretch the conversation” about your brand when you release your Super Bowl teaser earlier rather than later. In 2011, VW got several million views for “The Force” Super Bowl spot on YouTube less than a week before the Big Game.

The VW brand has advertised in the Super Bowl since 2010, when it returned after a 9-year hiatus.

Mercedes-Benz is getting a lot of attention for its pre-Super Bowl video for the all-new CLA starring Kate Upton. Uploaded on YouTube on Jan. 21,  the 1:30  attracted an impressive 3 million views by the middle of the day Jan. 24. The commercial, from Merkley + Partners in New York City, is a spoof of a scene from the 1967 prison drama “Cool Hand Luke,” in which a sexy young thing teases the chain-gang guys with a suggestive car wash. Here’s Mercedes’ take

This seems unusual for Mercedes-Benz, but hey, sex sells, right. R&B star Usher will also be in the final ad airing in the fourth quarter.

Mercedes also went big for an earlier teaser too, buying the rights to the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” in this video posted just a few days ago on Jan. 19

Meantime, two car brands- Audi and Lincoln- are letting consumers get involved in decisions for their Big Game commercials.

Starting Jan. 25 at midnight for 24 hours, Audi will have people pick one of 3 endings for a :60 Super Bowl commercial. The story line for the 2013 Audi S6 spot is a teen boy at his prom. Somehow that doesn’t sounds very prom-ising.

This still photo from the spot is about all that’s out there now from Audi

AudiTeaser13SuperBowlDoesn’t give us  much to go on, eh? Should make for a wild and crazy week for Audi’s ad agency, Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco as they edit the most popular ending into the commercial.

Here’s Audi’s final cut 

Ford Motor Co.’s lux Lincoln brand asked Tweeters in December to help it write the Big Game spot for the new MKZ sedan. Lincoln teamed with Jimmy Fallon in videos, in social media, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LincolnMotorCo and and via the site steerthescript.com.

On Saturday, Jan. 19 Lincoln released a 1:15 video of sneak peeks of the spot

Hmmm- tortoises, a motorcycle gang, llamas and a UFO? That’s certainly an interesting combo, eh? But only a disappointing 1,506 views on YouTube by this afternoon, Jan. 24.

Lest we forget, Lincoln said back in early December it had signed a deal with with NFL rushing leader and three-time Super Bowl champ Emmitt Smith as a “brand ambassador” for the MKZ launch. So I fully expect to see him in the final cut on Game Day. HudsonRouge in Manhattan is Lincoln’s ad agency.

Lincoln is NOT really a Super Bowl freshman. Lincoln was an advertiser in the Big Game in the mid-90s. And it had an ad buy for the 2005 Super Bowl for the Mark LT pickup truck. But Lincoln pulled out in the eleventh hour after advocacy groups complained it made light of the Catholic Church’s sex scandals. The spot showed a clergyman tempted by the keys to the 2006 pickup left on the collection plate. Instead, Ford used the ad slot during the game for an existing Mustang convertible spot.

The Toyota brand said weeks ago TV actress Kaley Cuoco would star in its Super Bowl spot. Here she is this :36 teaser, dubbed “I Wish,” arrived Jan. 23 on YouTube with the “Big Bang Theory” star and the RAV4

I don’t think this is going to get much attention for Toyota unless the actual :60 commercial airing in the first quarter from Saatchi & Saatchi in Los Angeles really dials things up. The look of this is too similar to the one the ad agency did for the recent launch of the new Toyota Avalon

You just get the idea they wanted to use this cool camera technique. Toyota also turned to social media to woo people for a chance to be in the commercial on game day. And Toyota is a sponsor of the post-game show.

Toyota finally released the in-game commercial

Hyundai still hasn’t officially released its ads or teasers, although I and other members of the media have seen the rough cuts . (You can check out my earlier blog about Hyundai’s Super Bowl ad plans here

http://autoadopolis.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/hyundais-super-bowl-ads-better-than-2012/

This is my favorite among Hyundai’s two in-game spots, called “Stuck” for the Sonata Turbo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SohqIBOb03k

Here’s the other in-game spot, just released today, called “Team”

Chrysler Group is again keeping a lid on specifics about its ad plans for Super Bowl. But you can pretty much count on something over the top.

Kia, readying its fourth year as a Super Bowl advertiser, seems late to the teaser party. But word is out it bought a :30 slot in the third quarter for the Forte and a minute-long slot in the fourth for the Sorento. DavidandGoliath, Los Angeles, handles. Here’s the teaser, which was released AFTER I originally posted

Car brands that aren’t returning this year are Chevrolet, Honda and Acura.

It’s a shame they’ll miss the big hoopla.

MAKING TRACKS: Ian Marlowe quietly shifted gears on auto accounts last year from group account director on Audi at Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco to global brand director at TBW on Infiniti in all  markets. Did former Audi of America Prez Johan de Nysschen, now president of Infiniti globally, cherry pick Marlowe?

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on Forbes.com, LinkedIn, Facebook

On Twitter @jhal2001

2012 Car Ad Review

As the curtain opens this week on 2013, it’s time for AutoAdOpolis’ annual year in review. Which carmakers and ad agencies executed outstanding efforts, which had some decent doubles and triples and which were just plain so-so?

Let’s start with the good news.

Chrysler Group scored big with its launch work for the return of the new, modern Dodge Dart. Ad agency Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, really hit it over the fence with this commercial that also debuted the tag line “New Rules”

Not only is this spot clever and witty, the art direction really catches your eye. Plus, this ad actually gives viewers a real sense of the brand.

Chrysler also gets high marks for the commercial for Fiat USA, dubbed “Immigrants” from The Richards Group. The :60 spot, which broke in the summer, hilariously depicts the next-gen 500 arriving to our shores- the hard way.

Like the Dodge spot, this is fun to watch and should put a smile on your face. It’s a perfect way to convey the car’s Italian heritage, which wasn’t the case in 2011 when Chrysler partnered with Jennifer Lopez for Fiat ads- a total disconnect that looked more like a music video for her new song than a spot for the car.

Both the Dart and 500 spots spotlight music from popular artists, a tactic preferred by Chrysler Group CMO Olivier Francois to grab viewers’ attention. The song in the Dodge ad is “No Church in the Wild” by J-Z and Kanye. The Fiat commercial pushed the new “Sexy People” single from Pitbull featuring Arianna. In neither case do the songs overpower the commercials.

Speaking of smiling, how about Volkswagen of America’s brand blitz that bowed with the :30 spot called “Smiles,” showing people of all ages laughing. There are no cars in this brilliant commercial from Deutsch in Los Angeles. It really captures the essence of the brand with the line “it’s not the miles, you how you live them.” The spot directs viewers to the whyvw.com sites, where they can post stories about their VWs or learn more about the cars from other owners and from VW.

Quite a brave move for a car marketer to not show a car in an ad, so kudos to VW’s CMO and chief product officer Tim Mahoney and his right-hand man Kevin Mayer, VP-marketing.

One of the most memorable spots that didn’t show a car was Jeep’s award-winning 1994 commercial, dubbed “Snow Covered” from the now-defunct Bozell in Southfield, Michigan.

Audi of America, which has been one of the industry’s best and most consistent advertisers in terms of creative, hits it out of the park again early in 2012 with a spot called “Ahab” for its all-wheel-drive Quattro system. The commercial spoofs Herman Melville’s epic sea captain character in search of an elusive whale with a northern tow truck operator and his frustration with never “hooking” an Audi with Quattro stuck in the snow. A very smart and entertaining execution from Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco.

While we’re on Audi, the brand’s Super Bowl “Vampire” commercial for its LED headlights did the best among all the top 10 spots in the 2012 Big Game, ranking 7th for Most Liked, according to Nielsen consumer research the best showing for any carmaker. The commercial was certainly over the top and tapped into the nation’s current craze for vampires.

Audi also ranked highly in my 2011 review. 

It was good to see American Honda Motor Co. raising the creative bar for both its brands in the Super Bowl. The Honda CR-V commercial starred Matthew Broderick spoofing his role in the flick “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

The commercial was one of the best from RPA in Santa Monica for Honda in a long time and blew away the earlier launch work for the CR-V. The spot ranked 10th Most Liked among all Super Bowl ads by Nielsen research,.

The automaker’s first-ever Super Bowl commercial for Acura was also a hit. In the Big Game, a media outlet where advertisers need to go big or be invisible, Acura met the challenge with a funny spot for the NSX starring funny men and car nuts Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno. USA Today’s AdMeter, based on consumer voting for their favorite Super Bowl ad on Facebook in 2012, ranked Acura’s spot number 13 and Honda’s 16.

Unfortunately, Honda and Acura’s over-the-top Super Bowl commercials weren’t enough to keep their ad agencies, RPA and sibling rp&, both in Santa Monica, out of the hot seat. Both accounts recently went into review.

Toyota Motor USA’s Lexus brand also made some inroads into improving creative with the launch of the new 2013 ES and first ES Hybrid. One of the launch commercials, dubbed “Split World” grabbed your attention with special effects and a script that made sense. Bravo to Brian Smith, VP-marketing at Lexus and kudos to Team One

Sister brand Toyota still isn’t there yet. But Toyota’s “Real Owners. Real Stories” TV commercial for the Camry, with online video assets and accompanying web site is not only well done, but is getting tons of input. Toyota figured out how to tweak a year-old site for the Camry launch and took it up a few notches

When it comes to Ford Motor Co., its Ford brand has had some of the most consistent work in the category all year. The advertising from TeamDetroit in Dearborn is visually interesting, makes relevant points and is strategic without shoving people’s faces into it.

Take this launch commercial for the 2013 Fusion. Great way to bring to life the Big Idea of standing out from rivals, which disappear.

Let’s look at Hyundai Motor America. After a pretty decent run with some of the best ads in the industry, seems too many of Hyundai’s ads are getting a bit formulaic. The brand’s Super Bowl commercials, from Innocean Worldwide Americas in Huntington Beach, California, were nothing to write home about.

There are some signs of improvement with the September launch work for the 2013 Sante Fe, themed “Don’t Tell” mom or dad

Shows there are still signs of creative life at the ad agency and at Hyundai.

I’d like to recognize Cadillac as one of the most improved auto advertisers. After a less-than-stellar appearance in the 2012 Super Bowl, General Motors’ lux brand blew out of the gates with impressive summer launch work for the new ATS compact sedan. The work, from Fallon, Minneapolis, was themed “Cadillac ATS vs. The World,” showing how the car performs on some of the ing on and some of the planet’s wildest and most challenging roads. Cadillac smartly posted lots of behind-the-scenes videos on YouTube, as well as links on Facebook and elsewhere.

Keep it up! We’d like to see all of Cadillac’s sibling brands take it up a notch also. Although there were some break-out ads for Chevrolet last year, there simply haven’t been enough of them.

Note to GM and its ad chiefs: Please take some risks!

Looking forward to seeing more break-through work from all auto advertisers in this New Year.

MAKING TRACKS: Steve Rosenblum recently started as general manager of Publicis Kaplan Thaler in Manhattan, which handles the account for the Tri State Honda Dealers Association. Rosenblum had been consulting since leaving General Motors in late 2011 after 15 years in various ad and marketing positions.

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and on Twitter @jhal2001

Ford’s “Animated” C-MAX Ads

Ford Motor Co. tapped a nameless, animated character, developed in Italy, for the launch of its new C-MAX Hybrid.

The “La Linea” character will appear in all C-MAX communications, arriving tonight in a pair of :30s on national TV from TeamDetroit in Dearborn. Ford is taking direct aim at the Toyota Prius, which virtually controls the hybrid market in this country. Ford’s ads are going to crow about how the C-MAX Hybrid gets better mileage, is cheaper and has more horsepower than the Prius v wagon.

La Linea (Italian for “the line), made it to American tv sets in the 1970s into 1986, appearing on the kids’ show “Great Space Coaster.”

In case you don’t remember the character, here’s one of the commercials, called “Be Great”

What’s not to like about the simplicity of the work and clarity of message? The ads are intriguing and should stand out in the auto category. The only thing that bothers me about these first 2 spots is the “Hi “line. It reminds me of BBDO Detroit’s 1994 launch work for the Dodge and Plymouth Neon: “Say Hi To Neon.”

Toby Barlow, executive VP and chief creative officer of TeamDetroit told me his group took the “Hi” road because it was more friendly than the industry’s traditional “introducing the…..” He told me “no one should be saying introducing. It’s not really part of the vernacular.”

Sounds good to me.

Using this simple character was no easy feat. Mama Mia!

Its creator, artist Osvaldo Cavandoli, died in 2007. TeamDetroit worked with Quipos, the company that has the rights to “La Linea” to keep the look authentic. Since the licensing deal required the animation be done by hand, TeamDetroit worked with Shilo. The New York shop, which has produced the MetLife ads with Snoopy, made computer versions of the ads. They were then sent to the animators so they could create everything by hand.

TeamDetroit’s Brad Hensen, creative director, said “the fact that each cell has to be hand-drawn lends a certain warmth to the animation.”

The C-MAX blitz will continue for 15 months and includes print, out-of-home and events. The social media play includes an ad buy on LinkedIn, probably on the sign-out page, plus Facebook and a micro site with amusing “Hybrid Games” videos spoofing two sports casters showing how well the C-Max performs against Toyota’s Prius v. This site

hybridgames

has a share button so visitors can spread the word for Ford if they want.

Since the vast majority of hybrid vehicles are bought in a handful of markets, Ford will augment the national media buy with regional.

Let’s be realistic, Ford isn’t about to unseat the Prius any time soon. Nor are any other hybrids in the near future. But Ford has a very compelling product offering in the C-MAX Hybrid that could slowly start eroding the Toyota’s share.

MAKING TRACKS: Russel Wager is back in the USA! Wager is joining Mazda North America Operations as VP-marketing from DDB in Beijing, where he led VW’s account. Wager left the US in 2010 to move to Japan joining  TBWA\Hakuhodo International as president and heading the Nissan account in 52 countries. He succeeds Don Romano, who resigned this summer as CMO and the head of Mazda in Canada. Romano is now said to be a distributor.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Forbes.com

On Twitter @jhal2001

Most Effective Car TV Ads

So what are THE MOST EFFECTIVE national car commercials? Nielsen’s Automotive group announced the winners in Manhattan recently during the press days of the New York auto show. It was the sixth straight year Nielsen has honored the most remembered messages, most  liked along with brand and model recall.

You might be surprised by some of the winners in the bunch for calendar 2011. If you are, please post a comment.

Let’s take a look

Lexus took home the prize in the Best Sales Event category- for its “December To Remember” year-end clearance. Lexus has used this sales theme for years, along with the giant red ribbon. Team One in  El Segundo, California, is Lexus’ longtime ad agency

In the Luxury category, Nielsen tapped Acura for the Best Campaign of the year. The so-called “Aggression” campaign launched the 20112 TL. rp& in Santa Monica is Acura’s ad agency. Here’s one spot from rp& in Santa Monica starring Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions


Another other spot in the TL blitz featured Ashleigh McIvor, a 2010 Olympic Gold medal skier

Haven’t been a big fan of Acura advertising for some time. And although I’m not enthralled with the above award-winning TL work, I did really like Acura’s Super Bowl over-the-top commercial this year with Seinfeld and Leno. This more recent spot, for the launch of the new 2013 RDX is one of my current auto favs and shows how Acura and rd& are improving the work

Toyota won Nielsen’s most effective Hispanic TV advertiser for a Corolla spot from Conill called “Memories.” You should be able to see it here

 

The other winner was the Ford brand for the Green Award. (Sorry, but I was unable to secure this spot). The Ford work, featuring an actual owner named Ivan, was created by TeamDetroit in Dearborn, Michigan.

The car TV commercial with the highest Nielsen scores, and thus catapulting it to win Best of Show is… Chevrolet, for “The Salute” commercial

Nielsen Global Automotive’s Exec VP Ian Beavis, described this spot as  “very emotional” and one that “clearly broke through” the clutter.

Chevy’s winning Equinox spot was from filmmaker Ben Alagna, not the brand’s 2011 agency of record Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Alagna entered a short video contest sponsored by Chevrolet and Mofilm and took third place. The spot also did well at the New York Tribeca Film Festival last year.

While we’re on Chevy, let’s take a look at some new work for the Malibu Eco from Goodby

Anyone else out there who finds this spot too long and too silly?

I prefer this one for the Malibu Eco

Have you seen this commercial for Toyota from Australia themed “Tougher than you can imagine” for the Hilux pickup?

Now that’s a bit of fun, eh mate? Anyone want to predict how effective it will be?

MAKING TRACKS:  Jack Valente, who was the client leader at Mindshare on the Ford account, moved to InStadium as Sen VP-national business development.

Find me, Jean Halliday, on Facebook and LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @jhal2001

AUTOMAKERS UNVEIL SUPER BOWL ADS

 

The countdown clock is ticking until the kick-off of Super Bowl XLVI and more auto advertisers are revealing their Game Day commercials. Noticeably absent in the pre-game hype- AGAIN this year- is Chrysler Group. Last year, Chrysler was mum until its 2-minute “Imported From Detroit” spot for the Chrysler 200 aired during the game. Sometimes surprises are good. This year, Chrysler will have a :90 commercial that we’ll all just have to wait to see.

American Honda Motor unleashed a long version of its Super Bowl commercial, starring actor Matthew Broderick in a modern-day version of his movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

This 2:25 video shows Broderick calling in sick and escaping in his all-new, fourth-generation 2012 Honda CR-V to have some fun.

This is a fun spot that’s bound to break through the clutter during the Big Game this Sunday. Honda’s longtime agency, RPA in Santa Monica, tapped big-time director Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Old School) for this work.

The commercial is one of the best RPA has done for Honda in a long time and is far and away superior to the first launch work for the new CR-V that broke at the start of the year, including this one from RPA, called “Proposal”

Honda’s CR-V Super Bowl commercial is also tied into the Leaplist. Honda.com site, where there’s a CR-V Leap Year Contest to win a new CR-V and other prizes. Honda has smartly tied in with social media, encouraging its Facebook fans to find and comment on the dozens of “Easter eggs” in the spot reminiscent of the original Bueller flick. That link is http://www.facebook.com/hondacrv

And here comes the Toyota brand, which is advertising in the Super Bowl for the first time in three years.

Toyota is pushing the seventh-generation 2012 Camry with this entertaining commercial called “Reinvented” from Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles

Although this version is a minute long, this spot will be sliced to a :30 commercial for the Super Bowl and one of two :30s the brand will have in the game. Toyota says this commercial is scheduled to air in the third quarter and will be backed by a social media play kicking off after the spot airs. Viewers will be encouraged to go to Twitter and tweet with the #Reinvented hashtag about what they’d like to see reinvented. Toyota will respond to select tweets in real time with a creative depiction of that idea.
Toyota doesn’t have a history of exciting advertising, so this one is a breath of fresh air.

Not so for Kia, which has only released a sexy teaser for its Super Bowl commercial, starring Victoria Secret model Adriana Lima for the new Optima

We’ll see if the old adage “Sex Sells” works for Kia in this case. Don’t bet on it. We much prefer Kia’s “Epic” entry in last year’s Super Bowl for the Optima, also from DavidandGoliath in Los Angeles.

Kia’s affiliate, Hyundai is back for its fifth straight year as a Big Game advertiser. Hyundai said it will have five spots on game day: two during the pre-game, one in pre-kick slot and two in the game. Innocean Worldwide Americas in Huntington Beach, California, is the brand’s creative agency of record.

Hyundai is using the very-recognizable and uplifting theme from the movie “Rocky” for this minute-long spot, called “All For One,” about team work at its Montgomery, Alabama plant

Then there’s this one, called “Think Fast,” for the 2013 Genesis Coupe, which comes with a 348-horsepower, V-6 engine

How about this one for the 201-horsepower Veloster Turbo?

Sorry, but a guy getting mauled by a cheetah isn’t that funny.

Hyundai is also patting itself on the back for its big win for the 2012 Elantra as Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month with this commercial, called “Victory Lap”

Look for that one to air sometime before the game starts.

Lastly is Cadillac, which is pre-launching its new ATS with this snoozer called “Green Hell” from Fallon

There are certainly a lot of car ads made at Germany’s Nürburgring, so this commercial won’t break through the clutter. If you’re going to advertiser in the Super Bowl- Go Big or don’t bother!

Late Edition Addition: Honda’s Acura brand is pulling out all the stops for its first appearance as a Super Bowl advertiser. The brand has a minute-long spot featuring Jerry Seinfeld, who tries his hardest to move from number 20 to first on the list to get the new, upcoming 2012 NSX. There’s appearances by the Soup Nazi, Jay Leno, an, an alien and dancing holographic monkeys. You can see the longer 1:52 version here

Acura says it wants to strengthen its brand awareness. No doubt. The brand sold 123,299 new vehicles in the USA last year, an 8% drop from 2010.

The spot, called “Transactions,” was created by Acura’s agency rp&, a sibling of Honda’s longtime shop RP&A in Santa Monica.

OUCH! And Chevrolet has taken direct aim at Volkswagen’s already-released Big Game commercial teaser, with dogs barking out Star Wars’ theme song.

General Motors’ volume brand has uploaded a dog video of its own, from the popular OK Go group. Chevy teamed with the band for a new MTV video arriving this weekend featuring the Sonic. Chevy doesn’t call out VW by name, but in describing the video on YouTube says “we’ve all seen videos with talented dogs. Chevrolet’s favorite came from OK Go last year.”

Let the game begin!

(See my earlier posts for Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Lexus and Suzuki’s Bowl entries)

MAKING TRACKS: Anthony Kuhn joined Everist Genomics Inc as Director of Strategic Alliances. Tony has lots of ad agency experience, having worked at TBWA, Lowe and Bozell.

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2010′s Story of The Year

There was an avalanche of news in auto advertising this year.
The activity of ad agency changes was positively frenetic with Chevrolet, Mazda, Chrysler, Jeep and Mitsubishi all switching ad agencies, with two moves for Cadillac, plus GSD&M resigned BMW. The activity seemed to be just as brisk at the companies, which hired or installed new chief marketers.
Ad budgets started to rise as consumers slowly returned to showrooms and GM and Chrysler celebrated their first year out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
But AutoAdOpolis’ story of the year is Toyota’s incredible fall from grace.
Yes, Toyota, the car company with the bullet-proof teflon coat that seemed to be on an eternal upward trajectory to reach its goal of being the world’s biggest automaker. No one really saw it coming, Toyota included, apparently.
That ancient law of gravity – what comes up must come down – also applies to businesses and business cycles.
And Toyota went BOOM in a big way.
Toyota started 2010 with the worst crisis of its 50 years in this country- a massive recall tied to highly-publicized deaths.
If that wasn’t bad enough, there was the very public, image-damaging Congressional hearings, first with testimony from USA President-CEO Jim Lentz and then global chief Akio Toyoda.
In YouTube videos Toyota posted in early February, Lentz told us the sticky accelerators were “a rare situation.” He apologized profusely and told us Toyota wanted to regain customers’ trust.
Toyota tried two different trust-rebuilding TV commercials in the first quarter. First one called “Commitment”

Within a few weeks, that spot was scrubbed and replaced with one dubbed “Restore.”


Still Toyota braved on when, shortly after those mea culpa commercials, it launched the new Sienna. The campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles was light-hearted starring young parents who called the minivan their “swagger wagon.” (By year’s end there was a recall on the new Sienna) But the launch campaign ignored the entire recall mess, as did the eye-catching, retro blitz for the new Avalon.
Just when it looked like Toyota was out of the woods there was another recall.
BAM. And they just kept coming. BAM. BAM. BAM.
It was a tough scenario to witness.
Toyota didn’t just stumble. It fell flat on its face.
In the midst of the waves of recalls came lots of third-party research that cast a darker shadow on the brand and offered proof of the brand’s fall from grace.    KBB.com reported in May that Toyota had lost its top spot in the Automotive Brand Indicator to Ford for the first quarter of 2010. In May, J.D. Power + Associates told us the Toyota brand had fallen in its annual Initial Quality Study (based on owner responses) from seventh place in ’09 to number 21, and for the first time since 1998 the brand had falled to below the industry average.
To move the metal Toyota had its vehicles on sale virtually all year. Edmunds.com said Toyota’s incentives for the year jumped by 33%, while the industry average fell by 7% and that it took the brand 51 days to sell a Toyota in the fourth quarter vs. just 25 days in the last three months of 2009.
Toyota is now advertising its “Ideas for Good” feel-good, brand-building campaign to show it’s a good egg after all. The ads on tv, in print and online started in November from Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles focusing on how Toyota’s cool technology can be applied to other industries- all for the good, natch.

Toyota is urging people to submit their own ideas by the end of February and each winner in several non-auto categories will get…a new Toyota. More details here at http://www.toyota.com/ideasforgood
But some of the comments on Toyota’s YouTube channel about the Ideas For Good blitz aren’t very favorable. One says “I would use Toyota Technology to speed up the damn Toyota Technology ads so I wouldn’t have to watch them.” Another packs more venom: “I really hate all ya’lls stupid-as-hell ads. You’re only trying to make yourselves look good after the screw up you had with the hybrids randomly accelerating and killing people….”
OUCH!
Over the holidays Toyota tried to get people excited about the models it will unveil at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 10. The company posted what its misleadingly calling “a Pruis Family Sneak Preview” video on its YouTube channel, featuring Skateboarder Bob Burnquist.

Not much there there.
Repairing brand image ain’t easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. Just ask GM, Ford, Chrysler, and yes- even Hyundai, which have all had turns in that barrel, as most automotive brands have at some time in their history.
Restoring consumer trust is no easy task. It can’t really be done with advertising alone. It will take time. Toyota and its dealers will have to prove themselves every day to many now-skeptical Americans.

Find me on Twitter: @jhal2001

Happy New Year !

Toyota to Parents: Don’t be Lame

Toyota pokes fun at parents- again- in the ad blitz to launch the revised 2011 Highlander.
The Big Idea from Saatchi & Saatchi in Torrance, California, centers around the theme: “Just because you’re parents, doesn’t mean you have to be lame.”
The line is delivered by a blond, eight-year-old named Nathan James, who shares tips on dealing with up-hip parents. He thinks his parents are dorky because they have a really, old minivan, which looks like an unbadged Chrysler, complete with fake wood trim. Hmm, wonder why they didn’t show a dorky, old Toyota Previa minivan.

File:Toyota_Previa.jpg

Toyota made fun of parents in this year’s launch of the new Sienna minivan. But that campaign, which is still active, works because it’s so obviously tongue-in-cheek, calling the minivan the “swagger mobile.” The Sienna push always shows the same actors, a young couple with two young kids, and their non-adventures. But the parents are in the joke- not the butt of it.
Toyota says this Highlander blitz is aimed at parents with children between the ages of 7 and 12, and adds these kids “are easily embarrassed by their parents” and “the last thing they want is to be picked up from school in the old family hauler.”
I’m sure Toyota did their homework (translation: research) to end up at that target and conclusion. But for some kids, it’s not like the embarrassment stops at 12. It also seems like a small audience since it only covers kids in a six-year age range.
A dealer told me a number of years back that parents were bringing their kids into his showroom and they had a lot of sway about what their parents bought. This just floored me, since my parents never brought me to the showroom for my opinion when they were buying a new car. I walked to elementary school and later took the bus, so I never had to worry about any possible embarrassments about my parent’s cars, which I actually couldn’t wait to get my hands on to drive myself at the legal age.
I know times have changed, but this kid in the Highlander ads is just too smug. Have a look at the new Highlander videos on the automaker’s You Tube channel here


On the bright side, at least Toyota has gotten smarter – sticking to a single theme and actors and integrating it across all mediums for a single product. Not too many years back Toyota would have several totally different ads for the same model. At least this way you’ll know when you see “Nathan” what’s coming and you can take appropriate action.

But you’ll probably be seeing a lot of him, since he’ll be in every TV commercial airing during Modern Family, The Good Wife, The Big Bang Theory, plus Sunday and Monday Night Football. Toyota says it’s got integration in Top Chef, Bones, Parks and Recreation, In Plain Sight, and Mixed Signals. Little Nathan will be in print ads in TIME, People, Family Circle, Men’s Health, Real Simple, Parade, Sports Illustrated, More, Cooking Light and O the Oprah Magazine.
And this actor is hosting his own web series on Toyota’s You Tube channel in a late-show genre, interviewing family, friends and neighbors. Look for him hosting movie reviews on Fandango and a photo competition on Photobucket. He and/or his voice will be part of the entire campaign, complete with Nathan’s seal of approval on Toyota’s Highlander microsite here

Highlander