Toyota Plays Up Minivan's Crash-Worthiness

Advertiser: Toyota Motor Sales

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles

Challenge: Establish Toyota's Sienna minivan as a superior choice

The Ads: These unusual ads reenact the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's 40-mph crash test. In a TV spot, a bright-red Sienna van with a crash dummy at the wheel is shown hitting a stationary obstacle head-on, crumpling its front end. A legend notes the Sienna performed better than sedans and luxury cars known for engineering and performance--the Mercedes E Class, the Volvo S70 and the BMW 5 Series. A voice-over says the Sienna performed better than any vehicle ever tested--a claim repeated in a print ad that shows a crumpled Sienna with air bags deployed.

Comment: Earlier pitches for Sienna emphasized its roominess, addressing complaints about the cramped Previa van it replaced. This spot addresses another shortcoming of the Previa--crash-worthiness. Where the institute rated Previa's performance as "poor," it rated the Sienna "good"--its highest rating. And while other vehicles have also received "good" ratings, the institute confirms that the Sienna outperformed them. Toyota hopes the glow from Sienna's impressive results will spill over to the rest of its line. Should it? Camry, Corolla and Lexus are also rated "good" in the crash tests, but the 4-Runner sport-utility and the Tacoma pickup are rated "acceptable." $$$

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