Second Time Lucky For Toyota’s Joyful Offroad Ad




Toyota first released this rip-roaring commercial for its Tacoma off-roader back in February, a week before the Super Bowl, promoting not just the truck but the brand’s partnership with the NFL. It performed well for the category – comfortably beating its average Test Your Ad score of 2.3-Stars – and in fact scored higher than the firm’s celebrity-studded official Super Bowl ad.

Now it’s back on screens, and this time it’s promoting Toyota’s partnership with Team USA in time for the Paris 2024 Olympic games. On this airing it performs even better, hitting 4.0-Stars, still considerably higher than the category average. (A forthcoming System1 US report, offering a deep dive into the auto category, looks at how brands and ads can outperform rivals in a sector whose ads range from the brilliant to the deeply average.)

How come the ad did better this time? A lot of the reason is simply that May is not February. There are a lot of ads airing in February, and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. The ad shows trucks, cars, and even lawnmowers racing across a rural landscape, converging on a lone house to ask if its inhabitant, Billy, can come out and play. With a whoop of joy, he does, and the convoy sets off again. There’s a sense of liberation and freedom in Toyota’s ad which captures the emotional appeal of offroading.

The ad’s moment of peak audience Happiness, though, doesn’t come from the driving. It’s the end shot, with the Toyota logo next to the Team USA logos. Which is another way the timing of the ad works – it’s landing again just as audiences are beginning to anticipate the Olympic Games. The Olympics are a sporting event like no other, and the way advertising around them works is slightly different from other sports events like the Super Bowl, March Madness or the FIFA World Cup. As well as our Sport Dividend report going deep into the ways brands can make the most of sports tie-ins, we’ve put together a special Olympics report, The Gold Standard, which looks at the five Olympics-specific bits of advice we’d give to brands hoping to capitalize on the world’s greatest sporting festival. Toyota have heard the starter’s pistol already.

One lesson for brands from this Toyota ad is that timing matters. Another, though, is something we at System1 stress often. Advertisers may grow tired of their old commercials, and will often pull them from air within weeks or months of their debut. But the truth is that among audiences, ads very rarely wear out. In fact, as has happened with this commercial, we often see cases of them wearing in – when a good commercial reveals its longer-term potential over time or with a change of context. Toyota make a lot of ads, but they have the wisdom to give good ones a second chance.

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