It may have been the most verklempt 75 seconds of my life. And, yes, it did make me want to run out and buy a Toyota Camry. How can this be? That’s the power of Toyota’s My Bold Dad commercial, which debuted at Super Bowl 2015, part of the company’s larger My Bold Camry ad campaign.
The commercial features a father and daughter in a Toyota Camry driving to an unknown destination. Drive footage is interspersed with moments from the past: Dad capturing a spider; Dad fending off bees; Dad managing peer conflict; and Dad helping mend a broken heart. The unknown destination is an airport. Daddy’s daughter is now full grown, and with military rucksack in hand, presumably heading into life’s larger conflicts.
As the father of three daughters, ages 12, 7 and 2, this commercial hits at multiple levels and has infinite layers. Some moments I’ve already experienced (OK, minus the bees). Other moments I’ve yet to imagine (broken hearts and vocational discernment). In this ad, I see myself – my story – in that father-daughter relationship.
And that’s precisely what Toyota wants dads everywhere to do. “But it’s just a car commercial,” you protest. Yes, but it’s what’s happening inside the car that actually sells the car.
Miles per gallon, exterior styling, black tinted headlamps – they matter nothing to me. What matters is the relationship that father has with his daughter. I want to be that dad. I want his empathy. I want his sense of discretion. I want his boldness.
Let me put the tissue down for a moment and, as Bon’s Eye’s creative director, tell you what’s going on. Toyota is using an advertising technique called brand storytelling. Stories give “soul” to a brand. They can capture a target demographic, communicate organizational or product philosophy, and serve as a very strong call to action. Without these stories – without personifying and humanizing your brand – you are, well, nothing but miles per gallon, exterior styling and black tinted headlamps.
At Bon’s Eye Marketing, we thrive on brand storytelling. As expert writers, journalists and visual artists, we know what makes a good story, the value of that story and how to sell it so customers engage, invest and return.
Next time you have a staff meeting – or maybe it’s just a few of you at the water cooler – think about your brand story in relation to your product or service. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Like me, you may even get verklempt.
David Frederiksen, Creative Director