Tundra Flexes Some Muscle

LOS ANGELES Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi tonight will break a demonstration spot for the Toyota Tundra Crewmax truck that speaks more in the voice of the brand than the agency’s Super Bowl spots, said the creative director spearheading the campaign.

“After proving the capability of the Tundra, in this one spot we’ve outdone ourselves in terms of the drama,” said Erich Funke, cd at the Torrance, Calif., shop. He said the wry humor of the voiceover is in the slightly broader tone of the teaser campaign, which used lines like, “That’s the biggest toad in the puddle.”

Funke said the agency started picking up on a language authentic to the working-class target when creating documentaries as collateral for the Tundra launch and for the limited edition book publication of Working America, with photo essays by Steve McCurry, Jeff Dunas and James Nachtwey. “We’re amassing this pool of language, becoming even more familiar with the vernacular of truckers,” Funke said.

As part of its research efforts, Toyota’s engineers examined other brand trucks in junkyards to see what had caused their demise, Funke said. “They wanted to endow the Tundra with strengths not in the domestics.”

The spot’s opening shows the expanded seating area, but the voiceover is skeptical: “Having a half-ton with the most legroom and fancy rear seat is great, but truckers want to know if it’s still got some truck left in it.” A huge shipping container is dumped off the edge of a cliff but stopped by the Tundra’s brakes. The winch then starts to haul it back over the precipice. “Put it this way: If it will drawbar-pull sixty-four hundred pounds of dead weight and tow ten thousand one hundred pounds, it’s a walk in the park.” When the container is hauled up off the cliff, “Hello, dolly.”

Funke said the subtle message of the campaign is that drivers can get all the truck they could ask for but with Toyota’s reputation for quality, dependability and reliability. “I honestly believe that we are saying this,” he said. “Toyota is not the kind of brand that is going to beat its chest.”