Campaign of the Month: Toyota – “It’s Unbelievable”

Twenty years ago, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car entered the market.

Running half the time on petrol, the other on electricity, the Toyota Prius changed the car buying landscape forever.

In celebration of the twenty-year milestone, Toyota recently announced the launch of its next generation, sustainably-oriented Prius.

The 2020 Prius model is the star of Toyota’s latest promotional campaign “It’s Unbelievable”, which aims to highlight the Prius’ advanced technological features and unparalleled versatility in a light-hearted and humorous way. 

One of the main factors influencing the campaign’s distribution – delivering targeted videos to individuals based on the weather conditions at their present location – was born out of a unique digital partnership between Toyota, The Weather Channel and AccuWeather.

Source: YouTube

With the goal of reaching and connecting with Hispanic, East Asian, and Asian Indian audiences alike, Saatchi & Saatchi, Conill Advertising, Intertrend and Zenith worked in sync to ensure targeting, timing, creative and delivery was on point.

Here’s why we chose “It’s Unbelievable” by Toyota as our September campaign of the month.

The Insight 

In a globally-declining car market, Toyota is holding up better than most: our research reveals Toyota is a brand consumers would advocate to others.

In fact, when asked which automotive brand they would advocate to others, consumers place Toyota at the top, both globally and across the U.S. 

So on a global scale, the brand is doing things right. But always looking to improve, Toyota decided to go one step further and take a closer look at their key audience groups.

In order to reach consumers on a more personal level and establish the strong connection needed to encourage making a purchase as significant as a new car, Toyota had to adopt a consumer-centric approach. 

While evaluating the best audiences to appeal to, Hispanics – who make up 18% of the U.S. population – were identified by Toyota as one of their most desirable consumer segments. 

Hispanics, the second-fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S., account for a large chunk of the workforce with considerable buying power.

What’s more, our data shows:

  • Hispanics are confident when making big purchases. They have a positive outlook when it comes to their finances and making important financial decisions. 
  • Hispanics are likely to act as great brand ambassadors in their daily lives. Just over half regularly inform friends and family about new products and services.
  • Social media and TV ads emerge as the most prominent sources of brand discovery for the Hispanic audience, meaning brands have a greater likelihood of influencing Hispanic consumers’ purchase journey in these settings. 

The Message

The ”It’s Unbelievable” Toyota Prius campaign invites consumers to go more places, in more conditions, with the energy-efficient hybrid that started it all. 

The 2020 Toyota Prius boasts an all-wheel drive experience and top-of-the-line Toyota safety technology, making it the most capable Prius yet.

“Prius is, once again, setting the bar for hybrid sedans,” said Ed Laukes, Group Vice President, Toyota Marketing, Toyota Motor North America. “The performance, versatility and technology in the 2020 Prius empowers drivers to go anywhere, and the campaign lets consumers catch a glimpse of what that freedom feels like.”

But there was an undercurrent that needed attending to – Toyota couldn’t overlook the fact that sales of the historically game-changing Prius were in steep decline. 

Having undergone late-cycle innovation (and introduced a Prius with All Wheel Drive capabilities) Toyota understood their strategy for selling the car had to be targeted; it had to be geared around the sub-segments of consumers who were most likely to drive growth.

Hispanic consumers, therefore, was one such group exposed to the campaign across social, online and linear TV, print ads, and in-cinema spots around the U.S.

The videos hosted on social media and in U.S. cinema were envisaged by Toyota’s Hispanic marketing partner, Conill Advertising and named “Snow”, “Parking”, and “Highway.” Their purpose? To demonstrate the key features of the vehicle in a humorous, yet imaginable way.

The videos designed for Hispanic consumers highlight the Prius’ 2020 model’s adaptability for all types of weather, in every scenario. 

Harnessing the power of localized marketing, videos were seen by consumers according to where they were located – as well as what local conditions dictated at that point in time. 

Live data on weather patterns was closely monitored throughout, and if it happened to start snowing, for example, consumers experiencing these conditions would subsequently be targeted with the “Snow” scenario video.

Why it Worked

The typical car buyer journey spans far longer than most product categories.

By targeting certain videos to consumers based on the weather, Toyota could showcase the 2020 Prius’ hi-tech features in a more engaging way – one that successfully managed to mirror the consumer’s present reality. 

Portraying stories around Hispanic consumers’ everyday lives, each video was scripted to showcase one single feature at a time, such as AWD.

Location-based marketing spend is also on the rise, as brands look to engage consumers throughout the day on their digital devices. Tellingly, a BIA Advisory Services study forecasts location-targeted advertising spend will increase to $38.7 billion in 2022. 

All this aside, Hispanics are highly receptive consumers; they’re mobile-first, extremely digitally-savvy and socially-connected. 

This audience group spends an average of around 3 hours on their mobile every day (an hour longer than what their non-Hispanic counterparts devote) and loves seeing branded content on their social media news feeds.

They’re more likely than non-Hispanics to follow brands they like on social media for example (35% do) and to follow brands they are thinking of buying something from (18% do). 

For this audience, it meant Toyota’s branded videos ( positioning the Prius features as practical solutions which brought freedom as opposed to self-actualization) had a higher chance of being viewed as more of a welcome and intriguing diversion than an unwanted intrusion.

What’s also worth mentioning is that 36% of Hispanics say they prefer ads to reflect their culture. Recently, our findings identified that Hispanic cultural identity is most salient around food (77% cite this), personal values (60%) and music preferences (47%).

It’s clear that merely translating an ad and simply repurposing the content isn’t enough to reach today’s diverse and demanding audiences.

What Toyota understands is that these consumers do want brands to portray authentic references to their heritage, but not at the expense of cultural sensitivity, which is where other brands should tread carefully.