Saatchi Unveils Global Prius Campaign

LOS ANGELES Stars, black holes and the voice of actor Jeff Goldblum announcing “good news for planet Earth” figure prominently in an upcoming $50 million global campaign for the 2004 Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrid.

The work is from Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi in Torrance, Calif., and introduces the tagline “Start now,” which replaces the previous “Prius Genius.” [Adweek,, Sept. 8]. The overarching theme of the campaign, which debuts on Nov. 9, is, “[The] Power to move forward.”

The push begins with a Tarsem-directed image spot shot on the streets of London, Tokyo and other major cities. People and their vehicles are seen moving, even though their legs and wheels appear locked in place (and in the case of one motorcycle, frozen at a 45-degree angle). Goldblum’s voiceover declares, “low emissions, high mileage and you never have to plug it in … one small step on the accelerator, one giant leap for mankind.”

The work is designed to convey that the new Prius is “not an idea that’s ahead of its time. It’s an idea that cannot wait,” said Deborah Wahl Meyer, Toyota corporate marketing manager.

Two additional product spots were directed by Roman Coppola and also feature Golblum’s narration. The first, “Holes,” shows the Prius zipping in and out of computer-generated black holes as the voiceover notes that the car is “more powerful” than its predecessor model. The other execution, titled “Bigger” shows a stylized night sky with gleaming stars and galaxies that ultimately appear to flow into the roomy interior of the Prius. “It’s the world’s most spacious hybrid,” the narration concludes.

All three spots also tout the Hybrid Synergy Drive.

In a broad sense, the campaign is designed to expand the appeal of the car to mainstream buyers, Wahl Meyer said. Potential customers who are not early adapters, environmentally conscious or technophile consumers (the car’s initial consumer base) are targeted, she said.

The media mix has been considerably enhanced from the Prius’ June 2000 launch schedule, which relied heavily on Internet marketing to spur sales.

The November debut of the new work includes evening news shows and Meet the Press. Primetime fare such as CSI: Miami and Alias are on Prius’ ad schedule for February. The mix also includes print and outdoor executions and national radio spots.

To capitalize on its popularity with celebrities (Cameron Diaz, Leonardo Dicaprio and others have plugged the Prius on their own), the print schedule includes ads in publications such as Entertainment Weekly and Oprah Magazine.