Saatchi and Toyota Are Fast and Furious

LOS ANGELES The fourth and final TV spot in the campaign for the Toyota Tundra featuring racing bad boy Darrell Waltrip breaks today from Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi, the agency confirmed.

The commercial ‘s completion was coordinated to air in time for Waltrip’s season debut at the Nascar Craftsman Truck Race at Martinsville Speedway, the Kroger 250, April 17.

The 30-second “Test Drive” begins in the manner of previous spots, with Waltrip answering a fan’s question on how he chooses a pickup truck. The ad cuts to a close-up of Waltrip in his truck with a Toyota salesman, preparing for what appears to be a conventional test drive. But the road test quickly turns into a humorous take on Point Blank, with Waltrip taking the salesman on a frightening high-speed ride over speed bumps and through tight passages, under suspended cars in a service bay and roaring back to a showroom. It ends with the graphic of Waltrip’s signature and the tag, “Brought to you by Toyota, the newest member of the truck series, and proud of it.”

The commercial was shot at a Toyota dealer in Glendora, Calif., said Greg Braun, creative director (art) at Saatchi, who credited the Dayton/Farris directing team for finding a visually interesting location. “We were deliberate about making this the test drive from hell,” said Braun. “We used different environments for the service-bay area and showroom so that the changing of the light lets you know the scale of the test drive.”

Creative director (copy) Max Godsil said that although a stunt driver was hired, “Darrell kicked the guy out and did it himself.” Godsil added that the Tundra truck made it through the rigors of the shoot without a problem. “We know from industry scuttlebutt that on other shoots the cars don’t always make it all the way through,” he said.

Godsil and Braun said additional TV might be produced later in the year because of the 10-month Nascar season. The current plan, however, calls for reinforcing the TV push mostly through radio.

The Torrance, Calif., agency declined to specify the amount Toyota is spending on Tundra. In 2003, the automaker spent $45 million marketing the model, according the Nielsen Monitor-Plus.