Swagger Wagon, Toyota's white-hot viral hit of 2010 (or at least the whitest viral hit of 2010), has pulled back into the cul-de-sac for a new round of awkward suburban rap.
This time, a new family fronts the Toyota Sienna's spectacle of unapologetically cringe-inducing hip-hop shenanigans from Saatchi & Saaatchi Los Angeles. And they're joined by Busta Rhymes—who might seem like an odd fit, but as a 42-year-old father of three, probably fits right in.
Featuring "The Neuberts"—the original Swagger Wagon crew were blatantly branded The Sienna Family—the new spot puts more lyrical responsibility on the kids, with mixed results.
Handing over half the song to sassy children and an actual rapper saps some of Swagger Wagon's appeal. The first incarnation felt more like a self-aware bit of dry satire; the new one seems to think it's an actual music video. (This uncomfortable gray area could also be called the Rebecca Black Danger Zone.)
The shift in tone likely stems in part from the creative talent behind it. The first Swagger Wagon was directed by Eastbound & Down creator Jody Hill and featured two stellar improv talents, Brian Juskey (recently of College Humor's "If Google Was a Guy" videos) and Groundlings alumna Rachael Drummond. The 2014 version is directed by lesser-known British writer and producer Rhys Thomas.
Beyond its overall vibe, the new spot also takes an awkward turn when it stops halfway (a commercial break within a commercial?) to describe the benefits of Sirius XM satellite radio. "How else do you think we got Busta Rhymes on the track?" asks the mom. So now we understand the how, if not necessarily the why.
Will the new Swagger Wagon reach its predecessor's 12 million views? Likely not, without the captive audience of a pretty substantial media buy.
The problem is that the Swagger Wagon of 2010 was an anthem of uncoolness that young parents enjoyed watching because it had a simple message: Just because your life has become one big supporting role doesn't mean you've melted into the background of your kids' lives.
This time, the parents are little more than Disney Channel clichés, and the new Swagger Wagon doesn't so much declare "I've still got it" as it is says "I've still got to get the kids to school."
Here's the original:
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles
Director: Rhys Thomas