The commercial transitions from a series of panoramic landscapes into images of families and people helping one another, before ending on images taken inside an open Toyota dealership. Asked about the lack of proper social distancing in the ad, Ed Laukes, head of marketing for Toyota Marketing North America, told Automotive News that all of the video used in the spot was archival. Hyundai’s ad also uses previously shot footage.
The reliance on old footage—a strategy also deployed by Ford with its coronavirus reponse ad that began running on Monday— reflects the need to get messages out quickly, and also the fact that shooting new ads amid the coronavirus outbreak is exceedingly difficult.
Laukes said the message in the new ad “is speaking to the Toyota family, whether it be our Toyota customers, or our dealers, or our team members or folks that are working in the store or even people that love the brand for whatever reason, that this is a time to embrace your family, make sure that everyone is safe and healthy, but that there are better times ahead.”
Toyota Motor Corp., like most automakers operating in North America, on Thursday said it would idle all production on the continent beginning Monday, until April 6.
As for the decision to pull the sales event campaign, Laukes said: "I don't think that we're prepared to go out with zero APR for infinity right now, the way that some of the other automakers are. I'm not sure whether or not that message is actually going to resonate, and I don't know whether or not that message is appropriate at this time."
Laukes said the spot is the first in a broader campaign that Toyota is developing that will keep an optimistic tone to remind people that there are better days ahead. However, there are difficulties in broadening the campaign because of the differences in how communities are dealing with the coronavirus crisis, Toyota's marketing chief said.
"We're working through what we would call a phase two approach for right now that would be positive and warm. The big challenge that we have is the dynamics from coast to coast are so different" and so fluid, Laukes said.
"It's not like you can build a campaign that is necessarily going to be effective in Los Angeles or California that is the same as what's going to be in Iowa or Ohio, because the dynamics of the situation currently are not the same. So that's the one thing that we have to work out behind the scenes to try to make sure that this campaign is as fluid as possible."
General Motors has also rolled out a coronavirus-response campaign called “Chevy Cares.”
Larry Vellequette is a reporter for Automotive News