• May 13th 2009 at 8:45AM
  • 12
Long dead are automotive advertising campaigns that focus solely on the technical aspects of cars. Advertising now focuses in on sensations, feelings, abstract concepts and that "special something" that makes a particular vehicle stand out. Toyota's campaign to launch the 2010 Prius in the States takes exactly this kind of approach, with advertisements that are full of nature, singing flowers and the slogan: "Harmony between man, nature and machine."

The campaign includes not only beautiful imagery, but also highlights cool technology like solar panels installed on the roofs of bus stops, surely to recall that the new Prius is fitted with them on its sunroof. The artsy side of the campaign comes from 12-foot-tall flower sculptures that host recharging stations for cell phones, laptop computers and other electronic devices.



[Source: Edmunds]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think it's great how much Toyota is advertising the Prius. It's far past time for hybrid and electric cars to be available. I just wish they made the car look nicer. It's boxy and a bit ugly actually.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "Toyota Prius is the most fuel efficient car in the U.S available for sale, despite it being relatively large (lower end of midsize class)"

      EPA Size Requirement: 110-119 cu. ft. total interior volume. Prius is in the high end of the mid-size class with 115.3 cu. ft.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Purchasing any car is not a sound, logical investment. Consumerism is not a natural human behavior, so they appeal to the emotional(irrational) side of the brain.
      Marketing 101
        • 6 Years Ago
        paulwesterberg: "Purchasing any car is not a sound, logical investment."

        I dunno. I think you're being a bit too harsh. I think people buy cars for the same reason they buy other things: Cars represent value for the money.

        Among other things:
        - Cars are productivity tools. They save you time.
        - Cars are a means of security.
        - Cars are a portable piece of real estate you can call your own.

        What's it worth to you to:

        - Be able to stay later at work one, two days out of the week (without fear of missing your bus) and still be able to run an errand on the way home (which otherwise you'd have to run on the weekend if you were riding the bus).

        - Be able to help a friend move. Or, pick up a piece of furniture from your parents and move it yourself to your place.

        - Be able to have the peace mind knowing you can get to a hospital at the drop of a hat. If you have a sick kid or an elderly relative staying with you that's worth something.

        - Be able to wait for someone in security and comfort. On a cold day, it will be warm (heater). On a hot day, it will be cool (A/C). You can listen to your music or enjoy some quiet. And, if you're in a bad part of town, you can lock the doors (or move to a slightly better area close by).

        - Be able to make a private phone call while still being out and about in public.

        You can have all the above benefits for the price of a lightly used Corolla.

        True, these values are hard to quantify and put a dollar value on. And, yes, alternatives to car ownership have started to be able to meet some people's needs (hourly car rental, Google Transit).

        But, for a lot of reasons car ownership is the only thing that fits the cost/benefit analysis of a lot of people.
        • 6 Years Ago
        paulwesterberg: "No car can ever help the environment, the best a car can do is trash the environment slightly less than another car. An electric car would probably cleaner than a hybrid car, but it will still have a negative environmental impact. A bicycle will always be a more environmentally friendly form of transportation than a car, but producing a bicycle still requires mining, extraction, manufacturing etc and wont help clean the air like a tree does."

        Not disagreeing with you here. But I think it's also important to consider the other impacts that tools like cars and bicycles have had on our society.

        These tools have increased our productivity hundreds of times over by simply letting us do more with the time we have. This productivity led to greater national economic wealth which we taxed to provide public goods like education, sanitation, public transit, and public health (CDC, Medicare, etc).

        Even with our dirty air and congested cities people in Europe, U.S., Canada, Japan, Korea, Australia, Argentina, i.e. the developed world, are doing way better than people in, say, large parts of Africa.

        And now, because of intransigence on the Right and a lack of leadership on the Left, we have to get serious - quick - about global climate change.

        But, at the same time, because of our wealth we (developed nations) are better able to meet this challenge than we might otherwise would be: electrical grid already in place, nuke plants online, and wind and solar power a small but growing development. And, more importantly, we can better afford helping developing nations skip a dirty, industrialization step.

        Getting back to the original topic:

        I think Toyota can afford to roll out a fluffy ad campaign for the Prius because they know they're going to get tons of positive media coverage about the practicalities of this car (MPG, etc). ABG will play a role here, too.

        In contrast, the Ford Fusion probably won't get as much press (i.e. free advertising) and so the ad I've seen literally fills the screen with the words: "41 MPG".

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIAclinwG6Y

        Along these same lines, CarMax and Autotrader.com have also run ads focusing squarely on the car as a commidity - "Get yourself X amount of car for Y price."

        Buying a car is definitely a decision that involves both how we feel and what we think. I think people in different economic situations make decisions that give weight to each criteria accordingly. And, that there's room for both our viewpoints here. = )
        • 6 Years Ago
        Try taking your argument to it's logical conclusion: "Cars cost money, cars aren't sound investments. Cars put money in the hands of corporations."

        So does everything else I own.

        So do my laptop, my iron, my iPod. Heck, so does my house (Financial pundit Suze Orman says that if you're breaking even on a house you're doing good).

        I mean, if you define "reason to own something" as "investment" and "worthwhile investment" as "providing a return" why own anything at all aside from stocks and bonds?

        Along those same lines, let's try substituting "small business" for "me/you" and make the same argument you are making (if I'm understanding you correctly): Why provide your employees with laptops? They're just going to get old and obsolete.

        To me at least, the answer is because these tools (laptops, cars, etc) provide value. True, there are many ways to get value for your money - you can replace a personal assistant (human) with a blackberry (computer) and vice versa - but I think you can see what I'm trying to get at here.

        paulwesterberg says: "Most of the "benefits" you list could also be accomplished by an efficient public transportation system and effective city planning."

        Won't find an argument from me here. I too would like to see more investment in public transit.

        But, I will point out though that Japan - public transit central - was up until recently the number 2 car market in the world (they were overtaken by China). And, Europe isn't exactly car free either.

        Again, car ownership provides values to people in these countries. Or, are you suggesting that the millions and millions of people in these countries are not making rational cost/benefit car ownership decisions? = ))
        • 6 Years Ago
        I am saying that it is easier for marketers to sell cars to people based on emotional appeal, pretty color, nice sound system, shiny rims etc rather than a logical appeal such as total cost of ownership or resale value after 5 years.

        Buying a t-shirt based on the color is a perfectly rational thing to do, t-shirts all cost about the same amount and last about the same amount of time. Purchasing a very expensive item such as a car based solely on the color is illogical, just as illogical as believing a statement like "Buying this car helps the environment." No car can ever help the environment, the best a car can do is trash the environment slightly less than another car. An electric car would probably cleaner than a hybrid car, but it will still have a negative environmental impact. A bicycle will always be a more environmentally friendly form of transportation than a car, but producing a bicycle still requires mining, extraction, manufacturing etc and wont help clean the air like a tree does. http://www.storyofstuff.com/

        The marketing people who sell cars want to make emotional appeals to people because it is easier to sell something to someone who is basing decisions on emotion and not thinking rationally.
        • 6 Years Ago
        A sound financial investment is something that makes you money over time. 99% of cars lose value over time. The value of a piece of real estate will rarely plummet to the point where it is worth nothing or has negative value(you have to pay someone to take it) whereas this happens all the time with cars. Not only do cars lose value, but they constantly require substantial ongoing capital investment in the form of gas, oil, tires, brakes, mufflers, labor & insurance.

        If you are a rare car collector/restorer and you know what you are doing then buying cars can can be a money making proposition.

        Most of the "benefits" you list could also be accomplished by an efficient public transportation system and effective city planning. For the last 60 years development and transportation efforts have focuses on car-centric communities that are inefficient and force us to make these money losing investments. Owning a car takes a lot of money our of your wallet and puts it in the hands of a lot of big corporations(GM, Toyota, Exxon, Chevron, etc) so they have an invested interest in making sure that owning a car is the only way to get around.

        But for most people owning a car is a money losing proposition.

        Disclaimer: I own a prius, I bought it because I would rather spend more on a car in order to spend less on gas and I like breathing clean air, but I don't consider it a good investment.

      • 6 Years Ago
      @car shopper:

      You got that right! The Toyota and Honda cars were designed to look dorky when compared to their other all-gazoline cars.

      I believe that thanks to Tesla and Fisker, these guys will have to rethink their strategy and stop worrying about cannibalizing their higher margin cars.

      - Nick -
      harlanx6
      • 6 Years Ago
      It will sell itself! The Prius is the real deal.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "Harmony between man, nature and machine."

      I guess the more you drive the gas-burner, the more harmony there is. I wonder if they intend to start selling bridges.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Before anyone starts bashing Toyota about how bad they are and how blatantly they greenwash, please consider this:

        - Toyota Prius is the most fuel efficient car in the U.S available for sale, despite it being relatively large (lower end of midsize class) and acceptably fast (0-60 in 10 sec)

        - Toyota Prius II (previous gen) topped every slow gasoline microcar in Europe in observed fuel consumption and if you consider fuel energy density, there are only FOUR superslow diesel microcars that are more efficient than Prius II. The advertised Prius III is even more fuel efficient: http://www.spritmonitor.de/de/die_sparsamsten_autos.html

        - Toyota Prius II topped ADAC pollution rating, scoring 50 out of 50 points with only a handful of other cars burning so cleanly: http://adac-ecotest.awardspace.biz/

        - Prius II got 8 out of 10 points in EPA Air Pollution score, significantly more than ordinary gasoline cars (usually 6 out of 10) and "clean" diesels (6 out of 10 as well): http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/compx2008f.jsp?year=2009&make=Toyota&model=Prius&hiddenField=Findacar


        So I think Toyota has some right to use symbols of environmental friendliness in their advertising campaign.