During the NFL playoffs at the beginning of this year, most of us saw an ad for Toyota automobiles. I saw a company's attitude towards marketing its cars. The slogan was "Let's go places." What it actually said was: "We make appliances. And we don't care what car enthusiasts think."
This means one thing: Toyota wants the same perception as Whirlpool or Electrolux. The company doesn't care what anyone else thinks about that goal. They make something for everyone like the appliance makers. And that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Any appliance maker present in our heads is there because we view them as innovative and dependable. Toyota wants to be both. But most like any appliance maker, Toyota wants to be a part of your everyday life. And then they show how their products are ingrained in everyday life. Like the kids and dog in the back seat. The people on the way to prom. The baby coming home from the hospital.
And then they show the extraordinary. The SUVs and trucks jumping and driving through a body of water. A Tundra towing the space shuttle. The NASCAR Camry going around the track. This is all just to give us that little bit that Toyota is going to great lengths to improve its products, like in appliance ads.
This ad is not for enthusiasts. If it was, we'd see the TS030 tearing down the Mulsanne Straight. And three Toyota 86s drifting across the screen. (The Scion FR-S should seriously be badged a Toyota 86.) But most of America wouldn't understand that. Because it's about what you see everyday, rather than once in a while.
There can be bad things about your product being a dependable appliance. One major aspect involves something all appliance makers deal with: recalls. Toyota has experienced this firsthand during the unintended acceleration scare of 2009, leading to the Jalopnik tag "BEIGE BITES BACK," which I'm glad is (mostly) gone.
That's when you become the first story on the evening news and have a ready place in or on the main page of the newspaper. And then the executive team goes to Congressional hearings on the subject. In effect, being a treasured appliance for America has its pitfalls.
But Toyota is still fine with that. It means they can sell more cars based on the features that they think the general public will respond it. Namely reliability, Hybrid Synergy Drive, the Tundra's towing capacity, and NASCAR.
After all, Toyota's slogan is "Let's go places" and not "The Ultimate Driving Machine," and that's the way it should be.