What a great ad. What a great message. What a great brand.
I loved where Toyota was with this:
The automotive branding textbook example is “Volvo = Safety.”
A runner up: “Toyota = Reliability.”
Once the darling of the automotive world for its efficient production, fantastic sales and extreme reliability, however, Toyota‘s taken quite a hit over the past year.
Result: a hard tack away from reliability toward …
Wow! That’s a ton of “safety.” A quick count has them at seven mentions per :30 spot – nearly one time every four seconds!
On the upside: message is loud and clear, yet casual and clean. Also, safety is not wholly separate from reliability; I consider the two concepts quite compatible. It’s also timely and topical, if not a little bold given the state of all things Toyota.
On the downside: if you’re a Toyota owner (which I’ve never been), you may not buy the message – especially if the recalls have been particularly inconvenient. This “safety” onslaught (I’ve seen several full-page print ads to match these spots) is not even fresh on the heels of the safety and reliability problems – it’s amid them. I feel strongly, though, that something often enough repeated comes to be believed (for better and for worse).
I feel like this direction could really work … but they’re already giving up on it.
“They’re Already Giving Up” Exhibit A:
In short: “smart, young go-getter gets a helping hand from a good corporate citizen.” Two notes: “Erica” does say the word “reliable” and it’s the same voice as the safety campaign.
The “safety” sell, though, seems to have expired. They must have research that suggests their problems with perceived safety and reliability are over – or that those perception/imaging problems were never too deep.
If not, I’m considering Toyota lost in the wilderness.
Disclaimer: Toyota is obviously a highly sophisticated marketer. My observations are based strictly in mainstream television and magazine messages. I expect fully that they’ve got many targeted, niche campaigns striking exactly where needed that are beyond my view.