I love road trips. And this has to be one of the best places in the world to do a really great road trip. I hear the complaints about our potholes and our dreadful drivers. But, what about those lonesome vlaktes and surreal mesas in the Karoo? Drive along one of the gravel roads there and you feel gloriously alone in a vast, beautiful, sparsely populated universe.
So when I saw the ad for Toyota’s newest product, the Rush “entry-level” SUV, my accelerator foot got itchy. Time to get out into the Karoo …
The ad was shot over four days in the Tankwa Karoo National Park (it’s always been on my bucket list, but the Rush ad has just bumped it up a few places) and the Cederberg (also a magical place and worth going back to).
The scenery is a perfect backdrop for the vehicle, which is billed as ideal for roads in the back of beyond, if not an out-andout offroader because it is not a 4×4. This is a vehicle, the ad says, which will take you to those places where memories are made.
And, being a Toyota, it will get you back, too.
As a vehicle for a young family, the Rush is perfect – well-priced, capable and with bags of space. And I predict it will sell like the proverbial hot cakes and give its competitors another Toyota-sized headache.
Interestingly, though, the ad itself is pitched at the Millennials, the group about whom every brand manager or ad creative director is gagging these days. This ad sets out to show this allegedly juicy target market how the Rush can make you much cooler.
Hence, there is a pseudo-rap soundtrack following the group of young people as they blast out and about on their road trip, doing silly things and striking silly selfie poses … as one apparently does if one is a Millennial.
I am surprised that Toyota and ad agency FCB decided on this approach, given that the group featured in the ad all seem to be single and carefree and more likely to gravitate towards a Polo than to a Toyota Rush.
I hope there is more material in the pipeline which will target families, because they are the ones who are going to be beating a path to your door, Toyota.
Having said all that, though, I still quite liked the ad, mainly because, as a grumpy old man, I could ignore the rap and focus on the vehicle and the scenery. Both are stunning in the ad.
And, it is interesting that an ad which has such a focused target market should be able to make “collateral impact” on someone who is outside this target market.
Were I not already driving a Subaru, I would certainly consider the Rush as road trip transport.
So the ad gets Orchids for Toyota and for FCB Johannesburg, as well as Robin Goode of Figment Films.
One of the dangers of social media for a brand is the team you employ to manage it. That has already burned a few brands whose digital clevers have either spoken out of turn or upset people on social media and done some serious reputational damage in the process.
This week, it was more funny than horrible, although the lesson about ill-equipped social media “responders” is just as valid.
A local comic posted a Tweet along the lines of “Just got kicked out of Mr Price Home. Apparently ‘scatter cushions’ is not an instruction …”
Ha ha ha for most of us. But the humour flew over the heads of the Mr Price social media team, who responded (quickly it must be said) with a request that the comedian contact them by direct message so they could address the matter with the particular store.
And, of course, the Mr Price reaction was just as funny as the original Tweet.
When your marketing makes people laugh at you, rather than with you, Mr Price, you get an Onion.