Land Cruiser Comes Of Age

Toyota’s Camera-Shy SUV Is Ushered Into Spotlight
LOS ANGELES–One of the first but lowest-profile sport utility nameplates is getting ready to step out of the shadows.
After 40 years in the U.S. market, Toyota Motor Sales’ Land Cruiser sport utility vehicle is getting its first TV ad support. A 30-second spot, breaking this week, will be the centerpiece of an estimated $10 million integrated campaign for the Land Cruiser from Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles.
The Land Cruiser has traditionally posted strong sales with little ad support. But with the 1998 model featuring the company’s first V8 engine, and with the recent explosion of the upscale SUV market, Toyota decided to raise the Land Cruiser’s profile.
“The Land Cruiser was the original luxury SUV,” said Joe McDonagh, executive creative director of Saatchi’s Torrance, Calif., office. “We have 40 years of heritage, and with the new model coming out it was time to stake our claim.”
The new work plays up Land Cruiser’s image as a “citizen of the world,” with proven off-road reliability and dependability since 1951. “We are positioning it as a world-class SUV with a tremendous heritage that has just made a huge step forward,” said Saatchi chief executive officer Scott Gilbert.
Filled with special effects, the 30-second spot begins by focusing in on what appears to be Earth as seen from space. The camera pans over various continents, then gradually pulls back to show that the images form a global Land Cruiser floating in space. “Forty-eight years, seven continents, 112 countries. Every day,” says the voiceover in the spot. “The true measure of a sport utility vehicle is not where it can go. But rather, where it has been.”
The spot breaks this week on network TV shows such as ER and Frasier. A fully integrated print, interactive and promotional campaign playing off the global theme supports.
The Land Cruiser sells for over $50,000, is targeted at households earning over $150,000 and competes with other upscale SUVs such as Range Rover.
Sources said the campaign will pave the way for Toyota’s introduction next year of its new T150 truck with a V8 engine, a vehicle that will bring the automaker into the full-size truck market for the first time.