Burrell Communications, Keegan-Michael Key Dispel Hybrid Myths for Toyota

By Erik Oster 

Burrell Communications launched a new “Hybrid Learning” campaign for Toyota dispelling common hybrid myths with a 30-second spot starring Keegan-Michael Key.

Key plays Ravelle Forman, an unhinged driving school instructor reminiscent of his Mr. Garvey character from the classic “Substitute Teacher” sketch on Key & Peele. When Forman asks the class who wouldn’t consider driving a hybrid, he sees several students raise their hands. When he asks why, one student says hybrids don’t have enough power, while another worries that they’re high-maintenance. Forman quickly dispels both myths by pointing to the Rav4 hybrid, which has 194 horespower and doesn’t need to be plugged in to charge. Ultimately the spot calls to mind the aforementioned Key & Peele sketch without retaining any of its humor, as the strategy behind the spot is perhaps a bit too transparent to let Key’s comedic gifts really shine. Key’s magnetic presence does at least make the spot more compelling than most in the category, however.

Burrell Communications’ creative team of Elyse Simpson and Derrick Harmon worked with Key, who helped write the ad, and director Tucker Gates (Parks and Recreation, The Office, House of Cards) to bring the spot to life. It was shot on the Cal State campus in Los Angeles, with an editing crew from The Colonie on hand as well. 

“Editing comedy is all about accentuating the beats with pacing and rhythm, which can be a struggle if the delivery of the material isn’t spot-on,” explained The Colonie creative editor Bob Ackerman. “Thankfully, the caliber of talent, performances, and creatives brought together for this job created a perfect storm – a wacky, fun, engaging storyline brought to life by a mélange of fleshed out characters that deliver the client’s message.”


AGENCY: Burrell Communications/Chicago
EVP, Chief Creative Officer: Lewis Williams
Executive Producer – Shirley Portee
Producer: Craig Wagner (freelance) and Carlo Treviso
CD: Lisa McConell
Copywriter: Elyse Simpson, Derrick Harmon
Art Director: Derrick Harmon

CO-WRITERS: Michael-Keegan Key, Rich Talarico

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Independent Media / Chicago
Director: Tucker Gates
DP: Mauro Fiore (Academy Award Winner)
Producer: Susanne Priessler

EDITORIAL COMPANY: The Colonie / Chicago
Creative Editor: Bob Ackerman
Assistant Editor: Graham Chapman
Finishing: Tom Dernulc
Assistant Editor: Ben Pokorny
Executive Producer: Mary Caddy

VFX Artist: Tom Dernulc
VFX Assistant: Ben Pokorny

Colorist: Michael Matusek

AUDIO + SOUND DESIGN COMPANY: Particle Audio/Chicago
Lead Sound Designer/Mixer: Katy Mindeman
Assistant Engineer: Jordan Stalling
Executive Producer: Laura Feeney

MUSIC COMPANY: Comma Music/Chicago
Composer: Josh Good
Creative Director: Larry Pecorella
Managing Director/EP: Bonny Dolan