Superb Storytelling In Toyota’s Holiday Journey


Present From the Past


Toyota are great storytellers and their ads often showcase a range of elements which we know work for grabbing attention and building effectiveness. This year’s holiday commercial, “Present From The Past”, is no exception, a beautifully edited short story about a grandmother’s gift to her grandaughter which reveals even more on repeat viewings.

It’s an ad with buckets of human connection, it’s all about the relationship between past and present, and it boasts a heartwarming melodic soundtrack. All stuff we know – from Orlando Wood’s work in Lemon and Look Out – appeals to the right hemisphere of our brain which values the living and looks out for connections and relationships. That means higher attention and higher effectiveness.

Toyota’s story has a great premise and a moving twist. A young woman gets a present of an old-school camera from her grandmother, who had used it to document her youth – and now hopes her relative will do the same. But rather than just taking the camera with her on her adventures, the woman uses it as a way to spark a new journey, retracing her grandmother’s travels across America, visiting old-time diners and meeting her grandma’s old bowling buddies. In the final shot, the two women exchange a moving look as the grandaughter reveals her Christmas gift to grandma: a new album, with old and new photos side by side.

For a 30 second ad, that’s quite a journey, and it’s a piece of wonderful, compact storytelling from Saatchi & Saatchi LA, with a real sense of time and place in the locations our heroine visits. It’s discreetly but strongly branded – the woman’s travels with her camera are enabled by her Toyota Tacoma pick-up, and an Exceptional 96% of viewers recognise it’s a Toyota ad.

The ad scores a strong 4.2-Star for long-term growth, a very good performance for a category where the average is 2.3-Stars. And it really excels on short-term Spike rating, with an Exceptional score reflecting the strong branding and powerful emotional journey the ad takes viewers on.

One more interesting thing the ad does is play down its holiday ad status – sure, it’s all about gifts and family, but it focuses on the characters not on the season. It’s a risky decision but it pays off with an ad which is just as emotional as most other festive commercials but feels a lot more unique.

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