Thursday, June 3, 2010

Toyota’s culture mashup

Toyota, in recovery from the brand’s most serious safety challenge, is promoting its Sienna minivan across a few cultures. With middle American families in their crosshairs, they’d like us to think well of the minivan lifestyle using a blend of humor, hip-hop and suburban archetype to do it.

The music video below is my favorite (and others, with nearly 3 million views so far).  The campaign's YouTube video page also features other 30-second ads that poke gentle fun at the idyllic family. The question will be do we identify with that minivan family? (And ultimately, will the ad help drive traffic to the showroom?) The “Diaper Bag” commercial in heavy prime-time rotation is the weakest of the 22 videos, in my view.

Ad watcher Craig Brimm of the blog “Kiss My Black Ads” takes on the culture debate and also finds the urban angle funny.

Lynne d Johnson at the Advertising Research Foundation told AgencySpy/ that the hip-hop approach was a “total misappropriation.”

America as melting pot is showcased by its TV/web advertising. It’s a commerce and culture mashup, reflecting our collective aspirations and fantasies.  Yes, middle America wants to be hip-hop cool.

Executives who have a clear sense of their brand’s core identity and audience are willing to push the image-making envelope for the sake of buzz and memorable (not negative) impression. And safety is hardly mentioned at all in the campaign.

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