Saatchi, Toyota Go Back to the Future

LOS ANGELES The last of the season’s Toyota spots coordinated to run with Indy car events rumbles off the assembly line at Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi for airing this weekend during the Japan Indy 300, the agency said.

“Light Barrier” continues in the easygoing sci-fi and visual effects vein of “Fire Pole” [Adweek Online, March 18]. Two-time Indy car champion Sam Hornish is seen racing until he goes so fast the car flashes into thin air and ends up on a 1950s small town main street. The friendly residents in front of the movie theater showing The Glob greet Hornish matter-of-factly and remember the last racer through town had been from Brazil. “If there’s a way to make our drivers faster, we’ll find it” is the tagline.

“Time travel is a staple of sci-fi, and we made use of that,” said Greg Braun, motorsports creative director and art director, who partnered with copywriter Max Godsil on the spot produced by Richard Bendetti at Saatchi, Torrance, Calif. “It reflects Toyota racing development where good is not good enough, and it’s in sync with the ‘Moving forward’ brand campaign.”

Braun said that in addition to the friendly emotional appeal, the spot’s futuristic template was chosen because “Indy racing deserves it. It is the pinnacle of racing technology in America. What better than to use sci-fi?”

The spot was directed by Andrew Douglas (Amityville Horror) of Anonymous Content, Los Angeles, and shot in Santa Paula, Calif., where the conversion of a street into a set made the front page of the local newspaper. “It was a very Norman Rockwell,” Braun recalled. “The funniest thing is that Sam Hornish, who drives 200 miles an hour, was nervous about getting in front of the camera. But he did really well. [Andrew] Douglas did a great job of playing to his strength.”

Torrance-based Toyota spent $735 million last year on measured media, per Nielson Monitor-Plus.