Once upon a time, catchy, sometimes cloying jingles were the go-to solution for brands trying to leave an impression. Toyota, it seems, wants to bring back those days.
Last week, the automaker and its agency, Saatchi & Saatchi in Los Angeles, launched a new animated Prius spot, "Hum," hinging on a happy-go-lucky brand tune and set in a world with fairy-tale overtones. The camera opens on a Prius passing through a pseudo-enchanted forest, reminiscent of FedEx's sustainability spot from last year.  In the Toyota ad, the flora sparkles, and the animals seem more curious about the car than startled by it—presumably because the environment loves a Prius. So do families, the ad says, as a pair of suburban parents pack their tots into the minivan version of the model. So do urbanites, it further illustrates, thanks to the smaller, street-parking-friendly option. (Perhaps the best single moment in the spot: A chess player pockets a piece straight off the board while his opponent is dazzled by a nearby Prius.) As the jingle reminds us, there is "a Prius for everyone."
Clocking in at only 30 seconds, it's an endearing—and, given the vehicles, an appropriately efficient—piece of marketing. The visuals are sweet and snappy, if perhaps a bit cartoony for the ad's otherwise twee-crunchy vibe. (And they're significantly less odd than the agency and client's giant "People Person"  from last year.) Throughout, the song's nursery-rhyme lyrics don't do much except enumerate the available options for buying a Prius, praise the virtues of the car, and entreat the audience to gleefully bop their heads and hum along about how wonderful that all is. In other words, they do exactly what they're supposed to do: It's the type of tune that doesn't let you forget, even for a second, that you're the target of an advertisement. It's also the type of tune that may have you clawing at your ears for weeks as you try to escape the echoes of its singsong sales pitch. (The original track was written by copywriter Ted Kapusta.) By second listen, it has already begun worming its way deep into your long-term memory.
Or maybe you'll find it so charming—it is—that you'll forget that the brand wants to reach into your pocket while you're dazzled by a nearby Prius.
Client: Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles
Executive Creative Directors: Chris Adams, Margaret Keene
Creative Directors: Gavin Lester, Glenn Sanders
Associate Creative Director, Copywriter: Ted Kapusta
Associate Creative Director, Art Director: Thomas Rodgers
Director of Integrated Production: Tanya LeSieur
Associate Director of Integrated Production: Melissa Eccles
Senior Producer: Margaret Nickerson
Producer: Annie Porter
Associate Integrated Producer: Mike Heil
Project Manager: Shaunt Halebian
Account Director: Marisstella Marinkovic
Account Supervisor: Michelle Agnew
Account Executive: Chloe Martin
Strategic Planning Director: Sara Bamossy
Senior Strategic Planner: Regan Zajac
Business Affairs Manager: Stephen Duncan
Social Engagement Director: Tomos Evans
Social Strategy: Nguyen Duong
Production Company: Passion Pictures
Executive Producers: Belinda Blacklock, Nicola Finn
Director: Sam Mason
Director of Photography: Pete Candeland
Line Producers: Angela Foster, Adrian Piasek-Wanski
Head of Ccomputer Graphics: Jason Nicolas
Visual Effects Supervisor: Neil Riley
Character Design, Development: Stephanie Davidson, Kim Dulaney
Computer Graphics Animation Supervisor: Wesley Coman
Computer Graphics Supervisors: Mario Ucci, Rick Thiele
Telecine: James Bamford, The Mill
Music: Brian Loschiavo, Black Iris Music
Eexecutive Producer, Creative Director: Daron Hollowell
Creative Director: Jonathan Fuller
Producer: Amy Crilly
Sound Design, Mix: Rohan Young, Lime Studios