Toyota: ad for the GT86 model offers thrills aplenty and is beautifully paced

Toyota ad's hero escapes his dull, make-believe world in a GT86
Toyota ad's hero escapes his dull, make-believe world in a GT86

Back in the age when I could still remember the taste of semolina - we're talking the 80's - we were young, foolhardy and had the world in front of us. All we had to do was to carry on being our brilliant selves and we would be rich and famous.

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Then bang, we were bought by another agency and all lost our jobs. Mired in gloom, the creative director and I talked about what to do. I went freelance. He said, ‘I’m going to Hollywood to do film’. Well, he was certainly talented, original, sharp and determined but Hollywood seemed the place for the Gods, not anyone I knew. I wished him luck. A few years later there he is, on my TV, sitting in the front row of the Oscars not just as a guest but nominated as the best writer, for ‘The Truman Show’. His name – Andrew Niccol.

Which brings me to this lovely ad. A ‘Truman Show’ in 60 seconds, we see our hero the everyman city worker locked in a dull world where machines do most for us, a numbed-down world devoid of any real feeling, beautifully animated and paced, with the feel of an epic about it. It should be seen at the cinema. Our man steals over to the wrong side of the tracks and finds the car which he proceeds to drive in a law-breaking manner, triggering the authorities to chase him down, and that big music track for addicts everywhere, Piaf singing ‘Je ne regret rein’. Because it’s a make-believe place, the driver can show us some awesome wheel-spinning slides and drifts before breaking out of the carapace of this dull world into our real world. We then see the car for real, and fine it looks too.
Petrol heads will know the GT 86 lives up to this hype. Which is why the ad should be praised even more. It could have started with the car, and myriad car-nut details such as low hip points or rear-wheel drive configurations. But it didn’t, it starts with the man. It taps a real human emotion (life can be dull in this vanilla world) and only then comes to the car as the answer. And the car delivers thrills and emotion aplenty. I’m sure the engineers prodded marketing to talk car language in the ads but all that stuff can be found on the site.  So it works. In my book, it’s always better when the ads are about me as much as about the product.

The Toyota brand has been missing for a while. Don’t they do Pick-ups? And massive four-wheelers? The endline, ‘Always a better way’, is an unhelpful woeful monument to wishful thinking and car-testosterone which reminds me of a feminine personal care brand. Now at last they have registered in a few million of my brain cells and a new story is emerging.

Brand strategy verdict: 9 out of 10

The best way to lift the Toyota brand is with a single brilliant car, as with VW and the Golf Gti. Let the other cars in the range feed off the GT86 and the cool ad.

Adwatch (Sept 19) Top 20 recall: Toyota 
Latest rank Sep-12 Brand Agency/TV Buyer Recall %
1 (–) Dare/Carat 56
2 (–) Enterprise Dare/PHD 52
3 (–) Aldi McCann Erickson
McCann Manchester
4 -9 Sainsbury’s Abbott Mead Vickers
5 (–) Churchill Pet
WCRS/MediaCom 43
6 (–) LoveFilm The Creative
M2M Media
7 (–) McDonald’s Leo Burnett/OMD UK 37
8 (–) Sheba Abbott Mead
Vickers BBDO/
9= (–) VO5 Euro RSCG London/
9= (–) Tesco The Red Brick Road/
11= (–) Colgate Total Y&R Paris/MEC 29
11= -13 BT Abbott Mead Vickers
13 (–) The Co-operative TBWA Manchester/
PHD Rocket
14= (–) Wickes MWO/Carat 27
14= -20 Sky Brothers & Sisters/
16= (10=) Currys/
PC World
M&C Saatchi/
Walker Media
16= (–) WeBuyAny
Response Media
16= (–) Yoplait Perle
de Lait
Publicis Conseil/
Universal McCann
16= (–) Tetley Tea Dare/MediaVest 25
20 (–) Toyota Saatchi & Saatchi/


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