Just as automakers like to advertise their racing prowess, they also like to show off their innovative technologies meant to make the world a better place.
Today, we’ll look at five ads from Toyota that are intended to show how advanced and eco-friendly Toyota cars can be.
And, with all due respect, Toyota makes some decently environmentally conscious cars. But Toyota (and a few others – not Honda) also sided with the failed Trump administration in the orange man’s bid to loosen environmental regulations for carmakers. It’s not a good look for a company (Toyota) that is also trying to show how good its cars are for the environment.
But that’s enough politics for one post. Let’s move on to the ads.
Going in alphabetical order, we’ll start with this ad from an October 1998 magazine:
Oh, how cute. There’s a kid’s drawing of a little fishy. And a cute little car, cut out of a leaf. (Wait a minute — doesn’t Nissan make a car called the Leaf? Eh, doesn’t matter here.)
Again, this type of ad may seem a bit hypocritical in light of Toyota’s support of Uncle Donald’s attempt to let manufacturers abandon tighter environmental restrictions, but I said I wouldn’t go into more politics in this post, so we’ll just leave it at that and let you decide what Toyota’s true intentions are.
Instead, let’s focus on the text of this ad, which includes this little nugget near the bottom:
I do like the selective use of green font. Normally, I always think using colored font is a risky move as it tends to get gaudy very quickly. But here, I think it’s well executed.
What about the execution of Toyota.com/ecologic?
Oh. That’s not as well executed.
Just like Toyota’s apparent willingness to abandon tighter environmental regulations (okay! really! seriously! enough politics for today!), it looks like the company also abandoned this site section.
That’s too bad as “ecologic” is a tidy term that probably could have had a longer life. Oh well.
In our next ad, Toyota wants to show off how its innovations extend beyond the automotive industry:
This ad actually has an extra hidden nugget that we’ll get to in a moment.
Here, Toyota is showing off how its efficiency practices helped a hospital in Pittsburgh. That’s definitely commendable and we certainly like to see companies sharing their expertise across different industries.
At the bottom of what looks like a doctor’s prescription note (who writes those anymore? Isn’t everything online these days?), there’s a reference to Toyota.com/IdeasForGood:
I’m all in favor of good ideas. So what happens when we try to go to Toyota.com/IdeasForGood today?
Oh, yeah. That’s not such a good idea.
Once again we are met with Toyota’s generic Page Not Found page.
Now, I’m not sure if you can read it, but the very (VERY) tiny print at the bottom references some contest where, apparently, people could submit their ideas for positive change in order to win some prize. I find it odd that the rest of the ad makes no mention of this contest — it’s only in the tiny print.
And, frankly, I didn’t look at that fine print closely enough when I first pulled this ad. But now, many months later, I see that the fine print ALSO HAS A UNIQUE URL in it:
Ooooh! That is some seriously tiny print. Apparently, Toyota had a special site for this Ideas For Good campaign at www.yourideasforgood.com (the tiny print specifically points to www.yourideasforgood.com/rules, but it’s fine to focus on the primary domain for our endeavor today).
Where do your good ideas go today?
A dead page. Too bad. That’s not a good idea.
Seriously, I did not notice that extra URL until just today, but I’m glad I found it!
Moving on, here’s a two-page ad that covered the bottom halves of the two pages:
Normally, when I scan ads that only take up part of the page, I scan the full page and then pixelate out the part of the page(s) that isn’t the ad we’re focusing on. You’ll see an example of that next. I’m not sure why I didn’t do that here.
But that doesn’t matter, really. What really matters is in the lower right-hand corner of this Innovation ad:
Here again, we see a nice and succinct site section, in this case Toyota.com/Innovation. How many people actually went to that site? I don’t know. But it’s tidy and gets the point across.
These days, Toyota.com/Innovation takes you here:
Oh, hey! A win for good old Toyota!
Granted, /innovation redirects to www.toyota.com/usa/operations/, but that’s fine. We like to see the old URL go somewhere practical and logical, and in this case, Toyota delivers. Now that’s some innovative thinking!
Our penultimate ad today comes to us from a November 2009 magazine:
See? That’s what I normally do when the ad is only part of a magazine’s page. I don’t know why I didn’t give the same treatment to the Innovation ad above. Maybe I should re-scan it? Meh. Nobody probably cares.
Let’s look at this Precision ad. Pretty crafty how they use all the different tools to spell out the word Precision, yes?
And, like the previous ad, it includes a URL in the very lower right-hand corner of the ad:
Black font on a somewhat dark red background isn’t the easiest thing to read, but we’ll not worry about that.
Instead, we’ll worry about where Toyota.com/Precision takes us today:
Oooof. That’s not very precise, is it. Instead of taking us to a page of relevant content, toyota.com/precision takes us to the generic Page Not Found error.
Our final ad in our journey through Toyota’s technical prowess comes to us from an October 2003 magazine:
Here, again, Toyota is touting itself as the carmaker of the future with innovate technology that will save the world.
And this ad includes a great website to promote tomorrow’s technology:
Seriously, among all the URLs mentioned today, Toyota.com/Tomorrow might be my favorite. It’s so tidy and memorable and yet speaks to innovation and the promise that a new day brings.
That’s some pretty awesome marketing, in my opinion.
Well, today is yesterday’s tomorrow, so where does Toyota.com/Tomorrow take us now?
Wow. Yet another failure.
Though I’m a Honda fan forever, I respect Toyota and (generally) like the things they do. But so many misses all at once is really sad. That’s not much forward thinking for a company that claims to be so innovative.