With Toyota Truck Stuck in Showrooms, Saatchi Shifts Creative to Rev Stalled Sales

LOS ANGELES – Disappointing sales of Toyota’s T100 truck have sent Saatchi & Saatchi creatives in Torrance, Calif., back to the drawing board to devise a new ad campaign for the vehicle. Sources said that the ad campaign is not to blame for the sales slump. Rather, Toyota hopes to boost the business by targeting the trucks differently.
Instead of a focus on the increased size of the T100, the new campaign is expected to position the truck as a more prestigious alternative to compact trucks. ‘It won’t have the usual screaming and yelling you get with truck ads,’ a source said. ‘It will address itself to an upscale audience.’
Saatchi executives referred calls to Toyota. A Toyota spokesperson confirmed that new advertising was due next month, but declined to elaborate on the T100 or its ad plans. ‘We just want to keep a low profile,’ said Carol Traeger. ‘We had stronger expectations than we’ve gotten.’
Toyota is expected to announce shortly a new marketing team under Bob Weldon, who was named vp/marketing several months ago. Leo Parente will assume the post of ad manager for trucks, replacing Don Cecconi, who will be reassigned to an as yet unannounced position.
The team faces a difficult assignment. The T100, Toyota’s attempt to broaden its truck offerings without incurring the heavy import duties assessed on large trucks, has sold a mere 6,656 units this year, according to The Power Report. It’s closest competitor, the Dodge Dakota, sold 36,638 vehicles during the same period.
‘People’s expectations of the truck were far greater than the realization turned out to be,’ said Tom Dukes, an analyst with Agoura Hills, Calif.-based J.D. Power & Associates. ‘They were expecting a full size truck with full size accoutrements. It just fell short of that.’
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