Toyota kills with zombie Corolla ad on AMC's 'The Walking Dead'

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Nov 4 2010

If you had a choice, wouldn't you pick a Humvee or a tank as your getaway vehicle in case of a zombie apocalypse? Apparently, a Toyota Corolla will do the trick, too, if you believe a commercial that aired during Sunday night's launch of the spine-chilling AMC series The Walking Dead. The undead-themed spot, set up like a movie scene with a couple watching a zombie attack safely from the multiplex, is the latest to pick up the thread of the show it's airing in. AMC has some experience with this, having done it all season with '60s-style Unilever ads during Mad Men. (Some viewers liked them, some didn't. I found them to be fairly cheeseball.) The cable network, on a roll with its original programming, is obviously able to draw in marketers who want a piece of that high-quality action and are willing to fashion their campaigns to fit the environment. I'm not sure I'm sold on a Corolla as a zombie shield, but the spot was so unexpected, I stopped fast-forwarding through the ad break to watch it. The 90-minute Walking Dead premiere, by the way, pulled in a monster rating with 5.3 million viewers, the highest for any series in AMC's history and better than nearly every non-sports program that aired on Sunday night, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. That's a lot of eyeballs on a contextually relevant Corolla ad. Creepy and clever!

Toyota Scion, Adult Swim team up to blast you with speed metal

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Sep 21 2010


Toyota's Scion wants to make your ears bleed. If you don't believe me, go here and download 16 free tracks of "rare or unreleased" speed metal courtesy of the car brand and young-male-targeted cable comedy block Adult Swim. You can also watch a music video from Skeletonwitch in which fluffy creatures get ripped limb from limb (that part's fake, but the zombies are pretty convincing) and get video footage of Scion Rock Fest 2009 and 2010, along with more metal-related goodies. The collection, dubbed "Metal Swim," is a promotion from Scion's Audio/Visual record label, which might get you too keyed up to sleep if you listen to it for very long. That dovetails nicely into the up-all-night Adult Swim animation. It's a partnership made in metal heaven.

Q&A: Brian Huskey on his white-suburban-dad minivan swagger

Posted on Thu Jun 3 2010


On his Twitter page, Brian Huskey presents himself as "comedian and friend to the common man, but not to the little guy. Screw that guy!" Thanks to the success of Toyota's "Swagger Wagon" video from Saatchi & Saatchi, Huskey has shored up his common-man cred and can afford to alienate a potential audience of little guys. The comedian/actor, known for his work with the Upright Citizens Brigade, says ever since "Swagger Wagon" appeared, promoting the Sienna SE minivan, he's had the social-media equivalent of people stopping him on the street—i.e., sending messages to him via Facebook. Huskey, who is also known for starring in ads for Sonic Drive-in, recently spoke to BrandFreak about his newfound celebrity. Check out some excerpts after the jump.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

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White suburbanites rap about their dope Toyota 'swagger wagon'

Posted on Tue May 4 2010

Who said minivans aren't cool? Certainly not Toyota, which this week released this fun little music video featuring a married couple rapping about the Sienna SE. Dubbed "Swagger Wagon," the video really gets into the hardships of living in the suburbs and driving a shiny minivan. Lyrics like "I roll hard through the streets and the cul-de-sacs/Proud parent of an honor roll student, Jack" and "I kiss their boo-boos, clean doggie doo-doos/Cut the crust off of PB&Js, chill the Yoo-hoos" pretty much sum up the everyday struggles of Mom and Dad. Toyota knows how to pull at the heartstrings of its target consumer, which is why it added a pair of cute kids to the mix. Rappers are known to set fashion trends, so Toyota figured the same would be true for popularizing the Sienna. Just get yourself some bling-bling (like a pacifier on a string), some black label, um, juice, and you're in the club.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Danish garage-door company making the most of Toyota's woes

Posted on Thu Feb 25 2010


Earlier this week, BrandFreak determined that an Audi video which seemed to be poking fun at Toyota's troubles was, in fact, an old video that had been reconstituted for that purpose. But there's no way that Dansk Port Teknik, a garage-door manufacturer in Denmark, is not having a laugh at the Japanese car maker's expense (with help from JWT Copenhagen). This ad is not only mean but is funnier than anything that U.S. comics have been able to churn out. Via Ads of the World.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Audi says its runaway lawnmower video predates Toyota recalls

Posted on Tue Feb 23 2010

Audi has been getting ornery lately. It recently took aim at BMW with a bitchy ad called "Friendly Competition" that sarcastically lamented its German rival's poor showing, relative to Audi, in three Car and Driver comparisons. Which is why this video might raise some eyebrows. The 30-second short, titled "Toyota Lawnmower Recall," shows a man attempting to cut the grass but instead getting a belly-down ride across the lawn and into the street. Basically, it's one of those that-looks-painful-but-in-a-funny-way Jackass-type stunts that you'd be smart not to try at home. It also seems to be a below-the-belt jab at Toyota, which recalled millions of vehicles in January because of sticky gas pedals. But who is taking the jab? A URL that flashes at the end of the video,, leads to an Audi Web site for E-Tron, Audi's electric concept car. An Audi rep tells us the brand created the short, but—and this is a crucial point—the video was actually released last September. The rep says it resurfaced recently after someone—no one knows who—put the new title on it referring to Toyota. The video, the rep says, was designed to show the advantages of electronic engines over gas-powered ones. It seems Audi's not guilty in initiating this instance of unfriendly competition.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Once-proud Toyota is learning what it feels like to be laughed at

Posted on Thu Feb 4 2010

Heard any good Toyota jokes lately? As the automaker admits yet another technical glitch (this time an alleged loss of braking ability with the Prius), comedians and would-be comedians are piling on. So far, the late-night comics, perhaps consumed with their own issues, have largely left Toyota alone, except for Jay Leno, who riffed on another incident: "Well, it happened again. Two Northwest pilots overshot Minneapolis Airport by 500 miles. They weren't in a plane, they were in a Toyota. It wouldn't stop." A site called suggested an alternate tagline for the Prius: "Making the world a better place. Even if you're not in it." And consumers in a Los Angeles Times story posited that Toyota stands for "This One You Oughta Tow Away." Not to be outdone, comedian Michael Nelson rolled out this semi-funny video of a putative Toyota spokesman named Beau Jangles who can no longer keep up the lies. "I can't do it," he says, whipping out a cigarette and a beer. "Oh really, it's my job to lie to people?" He then explains other Toyota defects. "The Camry was designed by a freshman at DeVry," he says. "It was a question on his midterm." Also, the Matrix has a blind spot so big that you have to ride with a seeing-eye dog. So far, not great, though I'm sure comedy writers are dreaming up Toyota zingers as you read this.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

This guy will need specially fitted front seat if he wants a Toyota

Posted on Wed Nov 18 2009

There are lots of ways, I suppose, to illustrate how a hybrid engine works, but few get the point across like this Toyota ad from Saatchi & Saatchi Australia. Here's the setup: A guy is reading the paper (headline: "G20 must not forget the developing world"), and then you notice he has an extra pair of hands, which lets him grab a cup of coffee without putting the paper down and put Vegemite on his toast while continuing to read and sip his joe. Meanwhile, a charming a capella tune plays that reminds me of Petra Haden's version of The Who Sell Out. This is one of those ads that make you wonder what's going on for the first 95 percent or so. Is it to raise awareness for Siamese twins? Is it a gay thing? Ah, it's a metaphor for "petrol and electric in perfect harmony." OK. But wouldn't it have been better to have shown the guy working the whole time instead of eating?

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Volkswagen quietly becomes the largest automaker in the world

Posted on Tue Nov 17 2009


Volkswagen has overtaken Toyota as the world's largest auto manufacturer? That's hard to imagine here in the U.S., where Volkswagen is a weak player, but the German auto company has quietly bypassed its Japanese competitor, producing 4.4 million vehicles to date this year, compared to Toyota's 4 million. In part that's because VW took over Porsche and Toyota reduced production earlier this year. But VW also got a boost in Europe, where it is the dominant player, from state-backed cash-for-clunkers programs, and VW's luxury Audi brand continues to grow in the U.S. despite the lousy economy. (Last month, Audi sold 7,358 units, just a fraction off an all-time U.S. monthly sales record for the brand a year earlier.) The Wolfsburg company also has numbers on its side: VW is the largest car company in China, where it's had a presence since its first joint venture in 1984, and is also strong in Brazil. Not bad for a company whose signature brand once urged buyers to "Think small" and choose it over models offered by giants like General Motors—the world's largest auto company just three years ago, which has fallen to No. 3.

—Posted by Noreen O'Leary

Australian border patrol only let Toyotas into their 'hard' country

Posted on Mon Sep 28 2009

Take a look at a map of Australia. The first thing you'll notice is that it's an island—a really big one—and it's got no borders to speak of. So, that's your first clue that this Toyota ad featuring Australia's Border Patrol is a bit off. The second is the cheeky slogan: "Nothing soft gets in." By "soft," these Ozzies mean things like tofu, little poofy dogs and sweaters that are tied around the neck. And don't even think of coming into the country if you shave your chest. These border cops are pretty good at what they do, though. They can even spot someone who puts a Toyota grill on his truck to appear less soft. Says one cop: "This is a hard country, and we want to keep it that way." As Jacko would say: "Oy!"

—Posted by Todd Wasserman



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