Now that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has concurred with Toyota's own assessment that the company's recall problems were due to accelerator pedals and not the car's neurological systems, Toyota Motor Sales is hoping to retake the reputation hill with a new ad campaign timed with spring.
The effort, "#1 For A Reason," hits airwaves Feb. 21 with a message more about the company's sales successes in the U.S. -- despite last year's recalls -- and third-party endorsements than about Toyota vehicles, per se. The ads, however, feature Toyota products that have historically led or sold well in their respective realms: Camry, Corolla, Prius, RAV4 and the Tacoma mid-sized pickup truck.
The ads say that more than 90% of Camrys sold over the past 15 years are still on the road today; that the Corolla sedan holds the title of best-selling car of all time with more than 8.6 million sold in the U.S. since it launched in 1968; and that the best-selling hybrid in the world, the Toyota Prius, achieves an average of 50 miles per gallon.
According to a Toyota spokesperson, the broadcast spots feature product imagery and text to reinforce voiceover messaging about Toyota's sales accomplishments and brand leadership. The first few seconds of each spot provide a montage of past Toyota commercials, and there are six creative executions in total -- one full-line spot and five model-specific spots.
The campaign, which will run through March, includes TV, online media and print. There will also be tier II ads touting low-interest deals and 0% financing offers.
Separately, Lexus -- the luxury division of Toyota Motor Sales -- has entered the world of film presentation for the first time with an agreement with Shangri-La Entertainment and YouTube. The automaker will present the Sebastian Gutierrez film "Girl Walks Into a Bar" free on YouTube premiering March 11. The deal is also the first time a major motion picture was created exclusively for Web distribution.
"Girl Walks Into a Bar" will premiere in the YouTube Screening Room, a platform designed to showcase top films.
"With 'Girl Walks Into a Bar,' the cast and crew came together to create something different -- a high-quality, really fun character-driven film that we could present to audiences for free using a new distribution model," said Gutierrez in a statement. "We found great partners in Lexus and YouTube to support the film while providing us with the stage to draw the largest audience possible."
Dave Nordstrom, VP marketing at Lexus, says the automaker is using the program to support the CT 200h hybrid car. Lexus has been doing unconventional programs for several months to tout the CT 200h, including club-like debates.
"Girl Walks Into A Bar" follows a series of characters in interlocking stories that take place in ten different bars during the course of one evening in Los Angeles.
The movie stars Zachary Quinto as a dentist who hires an assassin to knock off his wife. The story devolves into a tour of Los Angeles lounges, bars, strip clubs and "the occasional nudist ping pong club," per the release.