Saatchi Turns Readers Into Toyota Drivers

LOS ANGELES Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi is taking an unusual approach to promoting the advanced technology of Toyota Racing Development in print ads breaking in June issues, the agency said.

The full-page ads present point-of-view shots of a racing car, the Toyota sponsorship prominent, facing an impenetrable bank of gray smoke. The “Make a Choice” headline clarifies each ad as an interactive quiz. Smaller type reads: “A: Throttle back. (Go to Page 34) B. Punch through the smoke. (Go to Page 56).”

When readers turn to those particular pages (which will differ depending upon the magazine), a smaller ad will explain the correct and incorrect answers to the driver’s dilemma.

“We want the consumer takeaway to be that Toyota makes fast-paced technology that allows for quick decisions,” said Greg Farley, who wrote the copy with Trevor Oldershaw under associate creative directors Max Godsil and Greg Braun at the Torrance, Calif., agency. “We hope that adds to the larger brand impression and builds into thinking about the larger line, that fast-paced thinking translates into everything Toyota makes.”

The work breaks this month in Motor Trend, Racer, Road & Track, Sports Car, SuperStreet, National Speed Sport News and Truckin’, the agency said. Placement involved a highly complex media buy in which the smaller ads had to match the folios of individual periodicals.

“We wanted to create a campaign that puts you in the driver’s seat, not just as a viewer, but as a participant,” said Braun. “You are involving the readers, who get to influence the outcome of the scenario by what page they turn to.”

Braun said the media buy targeted racing fans that would be able to test their specific knowledge of the sport. “The media departments on both sides had to be exceptionally cooperative to make this happen,” Braun said. “The publications were very excited by the premise.”

Farley said the campaign “puts a human face” on state-of-the-art technology. “If we were to explain it to them in these ads, if would be like in Peanuts when parents are talking.”

Braun said that future ads will also feature “visceral” racing situations and that some sort of video-on-demand or Internet execution of the concept might be forthcoming.

Torrance-based Toyota spent $735 million advertising in 2004, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.