Toyota’s ‘Good Move’ Campaign Has a Few Questionable Ones

What do you make of this Corolla spot?

Saatchi & Saatchi in New York takes a drive on the creepy side in a regional campaign for Toyota that debuts during coverage of the London Olympics under the theme, "Good Move."

     A 90-second spot for the Corolla opens in an early-a.m. office parking lot with a clean-cut but edgy young dude sitting in his Corolla (the only car in the place), fiddling around with a thermos and cup of coffee. A salt-and-pepper-haired executive type pulls in, and the younger man offers him the brew. "I always have a cup for whoever gets here first," the dude says. "You got here first," the exec points out. "Yes," the young dude says, "but I don't work here yet." The scenario has a socially awkward vibe, amplified by coffee boy's heartfelt but overheated explanation: "When I was in the service, my dad, he sent me this book, and it was written by the guy who started this company … and every word in the book, I mean … I wanted to be that guy. And when I got back, I thought the best way to learn would be to work here." It turns out that the older exec is—can you guess?—the guy who started the company and wrote that book. "Yes, I know that," the dude says. "Your picture's on the dust jacket." The exec reveals that he drove a Corolla in his younger days, and he accepts the cup of joe, which is probably a mistake, since it's practically an invitation to his tightly wound admirer to follow him inside and at the very least irritate all the workers to death with his intense line deliveries.

     The basic premise is passable, if manipulative (making the guy a vet feels forced), but the execution is out of whack, because well-adjusted folks don't speak and act this way. It's played too earnestly for parody. Yet it's hard to take it at face value, even though Saatchi insists it's a "serious" commercial. The closing voiceover informs us that the "Toyota Corolla is just the car to get you from A to B, if A is an intern and B is the CEO." So, shelling out for a new car is the secret to climbing the corporate ladder? In President Romney's America, that just might be true.

     A second new Saatchi spot touts the Camry, serving up a so-so slice of self-consciously "wacky" humor. An average young-adult white-collar type bumps into his ex-girlfriend, who hyperactively informs him, among other things, that "the government is following me. All the governments. All of them. Do you hear that? Do you smell that? Do you like cheese? I once woke up with a green pea in my mouth. I once slept in an eagle's nest. I once ate only coffee beans for two weeks." The guy climbs into a Camry with his wife and two kids, noting that he "dodged a bullet" by breaking up with his zany old flame. I dunno. Seems like he dumped a real firecracker of fun and excitement, primed to pop when you least expect it. All he's got now is a predictable life with a mundane family and a boring car. Credits below.


Client: Toyota

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, New York

Executive Creative Director: Neal Foard

Creative Directors: Frank Fusco, Rick Rosenberg, Brian Riemer

Agency Producer: David Gerard

Director: Marcus McCollum

Production Company: Hello!

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.