Saatchi’s New Toyota Dealer Ads: It’s All About Choice

Saatchi & Saatchi, in its first campaign since retaining Toyota’s $80 million New York regional dealer account in July, finds virtue in choice, touting 17 different models that fit everyone from an extreme-sports enthusiast to a contractor to a judge.

Five TV spots that break this week feature characters with little in common other than their Toyotas. Shot against a white backdrop, each commercial features two people bantering about car features while acknowledging differences in their personalities and behavior.

The concept of something for everyone was the crux of Saatchi’s winning pitch, said creative director Neal Foard. The Publicis Groupe agency kept the business following a review this summer.

One spot shows a 50-something contractor who drives a Tacoma and an extreme-sports dude in his 20s who has a Tundra. “In the summer, I go camping. Winter—snowboarding. You do anything with your truck besides work?” the dude asks. “No, I didn’t buy this quality for fun and games,” deadpans the contractor. Later, the older man says he uses his truck to go fishing. “Hey, we should go sometime,” the dude suggests. “Yeah, like that’s going to happen,” says the hard hat, laughing.

“It’s not a big belly laugh—it’s just really meant to be, ‘Hey, we’re all very different,’ ” said Foard, who shifted to New York this summer to assist with the pitch after working on national Toyota advertising at Saatchi’s Torrance, Calif., office. “We aimed for a sense of warmth and inclusiveness.”

Other spots feature a soccer mom with a dad and a male architect with a female designer. There’s also an anthemlike commercial that shows a montage of faces, followed by a string of vehicle models.

The spots retain Toyota’s national tagline, “Get the feeling,” but supplement that with the line, “With 17 models to chose from, which Toyota is perfect for you?”

The campaign, which includes radio and print, will run in New York and parts of New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. A second phase of spots and possibly some billboards will roll out next year, Foard said.

Saatchi’s previous dealer work, last spring, touted special deals with the musical theme, “What about now?”

For the new ads, Saatchi sought to avoid clichés such as product close-ups and an emphasis on low financing rates, said group account director Tom Flood. The work instead shows how consumers relate to specific features—for example, a mom talks about a new third row of seats in the Toyota Sequoia.

“Saatchi did a great job understanding what [the dealers’] needs are and presented a significant and impactful group of spots,” said Mike Rocco, vehicle operations manager for the New York region. September sales in the region were up 5.5 percent from the same month a year ago, Rocco said.