Toyota aims to rev up sedan fans with music

Drivers let loose in the “Thrill” spot, meant to connect with the sportier 2018 Camry.

Halfway into the new Toyota Camry spot “Thrill,” which cuts among three drivers wringing out their new sedans to Queen’s 1978 hit “Don’t Stop Me Now,” you know all of them are in trouble.

The woman with her hair blowing against red leather seats is obviously late to a meeting as a nervous colleague waits in a conference room.

A middle-aged man — lost in the sound of the engine — has forgotten his son on the steps of a school. The third driver, a younger man, smiles to the lyrics “having a good time” while his date pouts by herself in a restaurant.

All have been naughty, but each quickly pulls a U-turn and is back to his or her duties after ringing phones spoil the fun.

The ad sets the tone for the “Sensations” campaign that aims to spark some emotion for the redesigned sedan, which is sportier in looks and performance than the vanilla Camrys of yore.

The campaign “compels drivers to love the new Camry for all the ‘wrong’ reasons,” Toyota said in a press release when the effort began last month.

The Camry has been the best-selling sedan in the U.S. for 15 years, and Toyota wants to keep its millions of loyal buyers from drifting off into crossover purchases or into increasingly affordable luxury cars.

It is doing that by sharpening the edge on the fading midsize family sedan segment.

The broadcast effort is Toyota’s biggest in just over two years, said Ed Laukes, Toyota’s marketing vice president. The broader Camry campaign includes more than 7 billion impressions across cinema, digital, social media, radio, print and out-of-home advertising.

“The goal of the launch campaign starring the all-new 2018 Camry is to tap into drivers’ emotions and the sensations they will feel when seeing and driving the vehicle,” Laukes wrote Automotive News in an email.

While dramatic scenery and extreme close-ups of driver emotions provide the eye candy for the eight initial spots, the music sets the tone.

“Music was chosen that would break through, turn heads and demand attention,” he said. “Sounds of the 2018 Camry mixed with moving music choices and combined with evocative imagery bring each execution to life.”

The spot “Indulge” shows a young professional woman blowing out of work early for a winding drive to Roxette’s 1988 hit “The Look.”

With each sweeping corner, her toothy smile fills more of the screen.

And an ad for the Spanish-language market has a young, bearded man driving in the desert to a hard-charging beat and engaging in the ultimate act of rebellion — declining an incoming phone call from Mom. So, while Camry buyers for generations have known that it’s the safe choice, the ads promise something of a walk on the wild side.

The digital ad component includes videos that aim to elicit the “autonomous sensory meridian response,” or ASMR, “a tingling many people feel when experiencing sounds, to modify sensations,” Toyota said.

Laukes said the early response to the campaign “has been phenomenal,” but he’s only getting started. “Stay tuned as there is plenty more to come over the next several months,” he promised.

The fully integrated campaign was developed under the “Total Toyota” market model that brings together the automaker’s agencies of record, including Saatchi & Saatchi, Conill, Burrell Communications and InterTrend Communications.

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