Here at CarNewsCafe, we’ve talked about marketing and branding, as it applies to automotive, quite often. Like most marketing, what’s done in automotive to promote brands and vehicles is usually pretty lame. We expect to see certain things, like the unrealistically “hard working” pickup truck that will more than likely be purchased by the slightly overweight, soft-palmed man who’ll use it to commute to work and will probably never once shift into 4WD. Or the unrealistic soccer mom in her huge minivan or sport utility who “saves the day” by hauling the entire team to the game and makes BFFs with her pre-teen daughter in the process.
These are the marketing cliches that fill the screen when we think about automotive advertising. Now, Toyota has launched a new campaign which, likely inadvertently, proves our point for us.
Aiming for the “who knows who they are?” market, Toyota is probably hoping to hit the youth, midlife, and old people arenas with their latest campaign. This one-fell-swoop approach is not unusual, but it rarely works. The campaign is centered on “boldness.”
Think about that word. “Boldness.” What do you think of as exuding “boldness?” Mountain climbing? Punk rock? Tiger taming? Walking into your boss’ office and demanding a raise for no reason? Boldly going where no man has gone before?
If you think of those things, Toyota isn’t interested in you. Their idea of boldness is to go with something safe and obvious. Namely B.B. King. This, folks, personifies the 2015 Toyota Camry and its version of “boldness.” A nice, safe, easy choice that no one will find in any way offensive or questionable. Amazingly, this is just the beginning. One bold choice leads to another, the Camry’s new tagline goes.
We can only guess what’s next. Another personage that personifies “boldness” in the Camry tradition? Maybe Mr. Rogers? Or John Denver?
On the other hand, this exemplifies Toyota’s real marketing strategy. The one they never actually relate, but that is at the core of their genius in being the top auto company in so many vehicle categories: be boring, normal, unobtrusive, and not special in any way. Nearly every Toyota vehicle you can name that’s being sold in the mainstream has this at its heart: it’s not outlandish, not flashy, not fast or loud, and exemplifies “normal.”
So maybe this new campaign is just mislabeled, or was mislabeled on purpose? Are these marketers actually making fun of Toyota? Hmm…