Toyota Unveils Tundra Ad Blitz and Has Detroit in Its Sights

Two Super Bowl Ads Followed by 70-Event Hispanic Effort, Major Digital Initiative

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DETROIT ( -- Toyota, which is on pace to eclipse General Motors Corp. as the world's No. 1 carmaker, hasn't had to think of itself as much of an underdog in recent years, but that isn't stopping the company from casting itself in a challenger's role as it makes a push to up its share of the Detroit-dominated pickup category.
The automotive powerhouse is spending $100 million-plus to launch the redone Tundra.
The automotive powerhouse is spending $100 million-plus to launch the redone Tundra.

Toyota Motor Sales USA's Toyota Division today unveiled its ad plans for the launch of the redone 2007 Tundra full-size pickup truck. Jim Farley, group VP-marketing, Toyota, said the automaker treated the Tundra ad blitz "like we are a challenger brand. It feels like we are the little engine that could."

Sales target of 200,000
In a segment still dominated by Detroit, Toyota plans to sell 200,000 Tundras this year -- but the automotive powerhouse is spending $100 million-plus to launch Tundra, described by Mr. Farley as "our biggest launch by maybe two times."

Toyota is breaking two ads during the Super Bowl in support of the Tundra, which go on sale Feb. 5.

The Tundra push includes a major Hispanic effort and Toyota Division's largest digital campaign. The automaker's regional dealer ad groups will spend as much as the carmaker, with about 70 different TV executions from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, Torrance, Calif., hitting the airwaves. All the ads carry the tagline "The truck that's changing it all."

Roughly half the ad budget will be spent on grassroots marketing, including regionalized dealer events, with a 350-market effort to reach owners of competitive models.

Toyota's Kim McCullough, corporate manager-marketing communications, called the Hispanic campaign "critical to the success of this truck."

70-plus Hispanic events
The marketer is planning 70-plus Hispanic-consumer events tied to the Copa America soccer tournaments; a 40-city music tour; sponsorship of charreadas, the traditional Mexican-style rodeos; and a partnership with the Hispanic Constructors Association, said Ms. McCullough, who joined Toyota 18 months ago from Nissan, where she launched the full-size Titan pickup.

The automaker's Hispanic agency, Conill, Torrance, Calif., handled the effort and created the tagline "A truck should be as strong as the man who drives it."

Wes Brown, analyst with auto consultant Iceology said full-size pickups are Detroit's last bastion, and truck owners are very loyal. But, he said, the most vulnerable models are the Dodge Ram, which hasn't had a redo since 2001, and Ford's F150 -- because of its huge market share. He said General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet Silverado, redone late last year, "is pretty safe."

Detroit truck makers "will be damned if they will give up share without a fight," he said. "For Toyota to make a dent, it's going to take a few years."
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