Toyota’s Tundra: Manly Truck on a Mission

DETROIT Toyota’s assault on the Big Three’s stranglehold on the pickup segment will be led by a campaign that leans on pure testosterone, with images of muscle, Marlboro Man-ish drawls and a tagline that assures that Toyota will make a difference.

“The truck that changes it all” will be the call of the advertising for the new Tundra, which ships to dealers next week on the heels of two 30-second spots during Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Both spots are set on the floor of a prairie surrounded by mountains. In one, the truck pulls a load of bricks up an incline, showing off a 10,800-lb. towing capacity. The other spot, aimed at showing the vehicle’s acceleration and braking capabilities, shows a speeding Tundra barely zipping past two closing iron gates, then abruptly stopping at a cliff’s edge.

Raspy male narration for the ads colloquially tosses in an “ain’t” here and there to describe the durability of the truck.

The campaign is significant for its reliance on events and partnerships, with more than 550 event days nationwide, from store openings for some of its newest partners, including 84 Lumber and TSC Tractor Supply, to small ride-and-drive functions at dealerships.

The truck campaign will rely on its continued relationship with Bass Pro Shops, with whom it has been linked for several years via fishing tournaments. The “Tundra Prove It” tour begins Feb. 7 in Orlando, Fla., at the Bass Pro Shops and International Home Builders’ Show.

In its bid for performance credibility in a field where the Chevy Silverado and the Ford F-Series wrote the book, Toyota will display the Tundra’s towing performance at these events, as well as show payload capacity, acceleration and braking.

“We treat this launch as a challenger brand,” said Jim Farley, group vp, Toyota marketing. “We are not assuming anything and we have a chip on our shoulder. The biggest moment for us is not the Super Bowl or the Daytona 500, but when someone asks us one question about the Tundra at a dealership.”

“We are clearly underdogs in this arena,” added Brian Smith, truck operations manager at Toyota. “And there are a lot of skeptics.”

Many observers are skeptical that a brand that has made its fortune on smaller cars with good gas mileage and a Teflon reputation for quality is taking on a segment in which it holds a 5 percent market share.