Toyota: When Media Buys Go Bad, OR, Getting Slayed by Zero

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Okay. Remember last year when you couldn’t get through any televised sporting event without being endlessly subjected to multiple redundancies of John Mellencamp singing “Our Country” over images of big old Chevy trucks? And the backlash that ensued?

I like to think Toyota is smarter than GM. Because they’ve adopted a fuel-efficient future. And because I plan to eventually replace my aging Chevy 6-cylinder Blazer with a Toyota Hybrid.

But apparently, Toyota missed the point of the Mellencamp/Our Country backlash. In the current age of advertising, having consumers as advocates and brand champions is more important than ever. And Toyota had this! A passionate user base that served as evangelists. But now, they’re in real danger of losing that. Why? Because their “Saved by Zero” campaign is annoying the hell out of everyone. It seems to be even more prevalent, and more irritating, than last year’s Chevy campaign. Today’s consumers DO NOT want to have their lives constantly inturrupted by the same ad.

In trying to find out what agency produced this, all I find is that the Toyota backlash has already begun. The ad itself is fine, if light on idea. Obviously, The Fixx’s song is catchy. And a classic. I just hope they got paid well for it being re-recorded for use in this spot. Certainly, no one will be listening to it on their own accord for several years to come.

The problem here was the media buy. Was it Toyota or their agency (Saatchi & Saatchi) that decided to drown the American public with a media buy that seems to air at every commercial break and threaten the Our Country campaign for the coveted Most Annoying Broadcast Campaign Ever Award?

With a tagline of “Moving Forward,” this campaign may very well move consumer brand-feeling towards Toyota backward.

I really don’t want to post this spot. But, for those who have just returned from a small island in the Pacific with no televised media, or for time travelers from the 1400s who don’t know about the YouTube, here you go:

*For the record, this spot aired 8 times during the writing of this post.


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