Saatchi, Toyota Launch $250 Mil.-Plus Ad Push

Toyota Motor Sales launches its 2001 model-year cars and trucks this week with 10 new spots from Saatchi & Saatchi that run the gamut from sublime to ridiculous, es-pecially the four Tundra truck ads starring a 14-inch concrete lawn gnome.

In all, the five models in the spots—the full-size Tundra, the compact Tacoma, the flagship Camry, the upscale Avalon sedan and the Sienna minivan—represent 65 percent of Toyota’s annual sales and half its $550 million-plus ad budget.

The Tundra spots, said Saatchi L.A. CEO Scott Gilbert, were designed to counter “the perception that [import trucks] are not as rough and tough as domestic trucks. We created a character to capture the attitude of guys who ride trucks.”

Enter the gnome, nameless in the spots, who demonstrates various Tundra benefits, such as ground clearance and towing capacity. Unanimated but personified by a gruff voiceover, the gnome talks to his driver, “Bob,” about various Tundra characteristics.

In one spot, the gnome stands in the middle of the road while a Tundra roars past him. “To you, it’s ground clearance,” he says. “To me, it’s head room.”

Two new spots for the Tacoma truck playfully explain how tough the drivers of that vehicle have to be. In one spot, several campers disembark from a Tacoma and chase two bears away from their salads.

For Camry, one spot humorously shows how the sedan has all the attributes a woman wants: commitment, family values, etc. A new Avalon spot shows how skid control helps drivers navigate wet roads. A poignant spot for the Sienna features real kids talking about being in accidents.

Ads for Toyota’s new sport utility vehicles, including the Se-quoia, will break later this year and early 2001.