Toyota Targets Ethnic Groups with New Advertisements. Will Other Companies Follow?

Toyota recently released four different commercials for their new 2018 Toyota Camry. But these are not your run of the mill advertisements; Toyota tailored each commercial to appeal to several different ethnic groups. The goal was, “to tap into drivers’ emotions and the sensations they will feel when driving the vehicle.” Each commercial was specifically designed to include certain music, actors, and scenarios to aid in relating to the targeted demographic. The ethnic groups that each advertisement is geared towards include African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Hispanics. This is not the first time a company has advertised towards a certain ethnic group, but Toyota is one of the first major companies to do so.

In one commercial, an African-American man orders a pizza for pickup despite free delivery offered by the restaurant. He heads to his garage where his red Camry is stored and starts the engine. A peacock quickly appears on the screen spreading its feathers. He drives with hip-hop music playing loudly from the JBL speakers included in the vehicle. The man drives by an African-American woman who smiles as the car speeds by, blowing her hair back. The title of the commercial, “Strut”, fits well as the man clearly enjoys showing off his brand-new Camry. The advertisement was created by Burrell Communications Group, a company that specializes in creating ads geared towards African-Americans. The ad agency wanted to give life to a car that has always been labeled as boring and lacking in style.

Another ad depicts an Asian-American father and his daughter driving in the new Camry. The daughter has her face glued to her tablet in the back seat, causing the father to play a song on Pandora. Both smile at each other as they enjoy the ride with the engine roaring in the background of the music. This ad, titled “Captivating”, targets the Asian-American demographic. It was created by interTrend Communications, an ad agency whose primary audiences are mainly Asian-Americans. This commercial was aimed at breaking the stereotype that Asian fathers fail to relate well to their children. The new Camry brings the family together and strengthens their relationship.

The ad that targets Hispanics is titled “Rebelde” which translates to “Rebel” in English. The commercial, which is narrated in Spanish, shows a Hispanic man speeding through a desert road in his red Camry. A call from his mother appears on the Camry’s touchscreen. The man sees this and a bead of sweat drips down his forehead before he hits decline. A smile crosses his face, and the man switches the Camry to Sport Mode as he speeds off. The man ignoring the phone call of his mother would be seen as rebellious by people of the Hispanic culture, one that shows great respect for mothers. But the thrill of driving the Camry is too much for the man to resist. The ad, created by Conill, was designed to show that the enjoyment of driving the new Camry is even worth ignoring a phone call from one’s own mother.

This strategic move by the automobile company may set a new precedent in the way companies advertise their products and services to consumers. Depending on the success of the campaign, other firms may try to cater their advertisements to certain ethnic groups. Toyota decided to place each advertisement where each ethnic group will most likely see them. For example, television shows that are commonly watched by Asian-Americans will likely have the “Captivating” ad whereas a Spanish network may show the “Rebelde” ad often. By designing their commercials to relate well to the people watching them, Toyota is attempting to bring out the positive emotions in these ethnic groups, hopefully leading them to purchase the new Camry.

Although it seems like a smart idea to create specific advertisements towards certain ethnic groups, some people may view these ads as tasteless and stereotypical. The ad agencies that designed the commercials each specialize in marketing to their respective ethnic groups and many employees in each company are of that ethnic group. Despite this, consumers may think that it is stereotypical, for example, to play hip-hop music while the African-American is driving. Furthermore, the idea of marketing differently depending on a person’s ethnicity may depict Toyota as segregating its consumers based off of race and ethnicity. Additionally, there were four commercials created for this campaign. The fourth commercial is titled “Thrill” and features three different characters running late for three separate events. The song “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen plays in the background as all three characters enjoy their ride in their Camry before eventually making it to their destination. The controversy arises with who the target audience is, which is stated as being the “Transcultural Mainstream.” The ad depicts mostly white characters and could easily come off as targeting the Caucasian demographic. Despite this, Toyota has said that “there is no Caucasian market.” The commercial is intended to apply to all ethnic groups. If these new commercials are successful for Toyota, a new age of advertising may be upon us, as companies may attempt to create multiple commercials that will also appeal to different demographics.


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