Hybrid Engine Drives Toyota Effort

NEW YORK Toyota is touting the Prius’ kicky performance in a print campaign for its Hybrid Synergy Drive power train system, a combination gasoline/electric engine that aims to reduce fuel emissions.

The series of four ads comes via Dentsu’s Oasis in New York, which lost the $20 million Prius vehicle account to Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi in April, but continues to produce corporate ads for the motor giant. Toyota spent nearly $50 million on corporate ads in 2002 and about $10 million from January through March of this year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

The ads broke on Monday in USA Today and will appear through month’s end in more than 50 publications including Forbes, Fortune and Scientific American.

In one execution, a Prius sports a fiery paint job, usually associated with powerful muscle cars. But the flames are green, and upon closer inspection, painted as swirling leaves. In another, a Prius peels away to reveal green rubber marks on a country road. In the third, a roadside tree waves a checkered flag as the car passes by. The copy reads, “Introducing high performance technology that’s also good for the environment.” The corporate tagline, developed in 2001, remains: “Today, tomorrow, Toyota.”

“This technology isn’t just going to be in Prius, it’s going to exist in many different cars and trucks,” said Paul Bernasconi, creative director and partner at Oasis. “It’s very similar to ‘Intel Inside.'”

The Hybrid Synergy Drive engine will debut in the 2004 Prius, and will then roll out in other Toyota models beginning with the Lexus RX 330, an SUV. An outdoor campaign for the engine is slated to break in September, Bernasconi said.