Toyota Caps 11-Season Modern Family Partnership With Farewell Spot

Brand switched to an animated ad after COVID-19 shutdown scuttled live-action plans for the finale

Toyota's farewell Modern Family spot was supposed to be live-action, but switched to an animated approach after COVID-19 shut down production. Toyota
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Millions of people will say farewell to Modern Family tonight as the ABC sitcom signs off after 11 years, and Toyota has planned its own special goodbye.

The brand, which has partnered with Modern Family throughout its 11-season run, has created a goodbye spot that will air twice during the Modern Family retrospective airing at 8 p.m. ET. (It will not run during the one-hour series finale, which begins at 9.)

Remotely narrated by Ty Burrell, who plays dad Phil Dunphy, the animated spot features a Toyota Highlander, which stops at each home from the show and recounts memorable moments from through Modern Family’s run before it drives into the sunset.

The ad was intended to be live-action, but switched to an animated approach after most Hollywood production was shut down a month ago due to COVID-19 concerns.

“This tribute exemplifies the tenacity of Disney Advertising Sales and the way the team is continuing to service clients while navigating the uncharted waters from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Jerry Daniello, svp, entertainment brand solutions, Disney Advertising Sales, in a statement. “We’re taking this moment with the brand to celebrate the iconic series, all while bringing a piece of levity to the intensity of the present state of the world.”

Toyota was the first integration featured on the series and has partnered with the show during its entire run. Many characters on the show drove Toyota vehicles, including Julie Bowen’s Claire (a Sienna, and later a Camry), Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet’s Mitch and Cam (a Prius) and Sarah Hyland’s Haley (a Corolla).

Burrell told Adweek last fall that one of his favorite brand partnership of all time was a Modern Family Toyota spot he filmed years ago that only ran in Australia.

“I got to do it with [Modern Family creators] Chris[topher Lloyd] and Steve [Levitan]. It was really seamless. I was playing Phil; it was just like another day at work. It was really, really awesome,” he said.

“As the first brand to execute an integration with Modern Family, the team at Toyota is thrilled to see it come full circle 11 seasons later with this beloved and celebrated series,” said Lorenzo Harris, integrated marketing operations, Toyota Motor North America, in a statement.

Modern Family’s farewell tonight heralds the end of the broadcast sitcom era. During its 11-season run, the entire TV industry transformed around it, with Netflix and other streaming services drawing audiences away from live linear entertainment shows—making it unlikely that another series will be able to replicate its commercial and critical success.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.