Thursday, December 20, 2007

Toyota's Eco-themed Promotional Campaign

We work in San Francisco and live in beautiful Marin, where the Toyota Prius -- with great fuel efficiency, modern style and smart branding -- is the top selling car of all. The Prius is perceived by progressive-minded locals as waaaaay cooler than a Mercedes or an SUV. Thank gawd.

Toyota Europe's most recent promotional campaign shows how well this brand "gets it". Forsaking the typical sex appeal or automotive hard sell, they instead use metaphor to underscore their difference and remind us of the challenges our planet faces in the coming year and beyond.

In a beautiful TV spot developed by Saatch & Saatchi, a spare kraft gift box marked "FRAGILE" is opened to reveal a delicate Christmas tree ornament that looks just like the planet earth. The ornament is carefully hung on a tree...followed by the words: "The world is in your hands. Treat it well."

Toyota may be an automotive giant that's part of a broader petroleum dependency problem, but more than its peers it has made a concerted effort to reduce the impact its vehicles have on the planet. This initiative has not only helped the brand, but it's helped consumers rethink what they want in a vehicle. They are using the power of good marketing and promotion to change the tired old auto industry -- and ultimately this effort is helping the planet. Beyond its promotional campaigns, we applaud Toyota of America's corporate team for successfully completing a 5-year Environmental Action Plan throughout its U.S. operations, and for immediately launching a new and more comprehensive eco initiative for the next five years.

To paraphrase Marty Neumeier in his excellent book, The Brand Gap: A brand is not a logo, a business card, or a product. A brand is a gut feeling we all have about a product, service, or company. Judging by all the Toyotas I see buzzing around Northern California, many smart progressive people feel good about the Toyota brand and its commitment to the environment.