DETROIT - Toyota Motor Corp. aims to break new ground - and tug on some heartstrings - with a bilingual ad that will run during this year's Super Bowl.
In the 30-second ad, a Hispanic father is driving his young son in their new hybrid Toyota Camry. When the father explains how the hybrid car switches between gas and electric power, the son compares it to the way his father can switch between English and Spanish.
"Because I'm always thinking of your future," the father says, explaining why he learned English - and why he bought a hybrid.
It will be the first ad aired for the 2007 Toyota Camry, which will be at dealerships in March. The hybrid version of the Camry comes out in May. The Camry has been America's best-selling car for eight of the last nine years.
Jim Farley, vice president of marketing for Toyota's U.S. division, said it's the first time Toyota has made a bilingual ad. Throughout the ad, the father and son mix English with Spanish, but the words they use are familiar enough to English ears that there aren't any subtitles.
Farley believes it's one of the first times a bilingual ad will be featured during the Super Bowl, which is one of America's most-watched sporting events. The ad is a nod to the Hispanic market, where the Toyota Corolla has been the best-selling car since May 2004, Farley said. The Camry is the third best seller among Hispanics, behind the Nissan Altima.
"Many people look at Toyota as a brand popular with highly educated Caucasians, and the stereotype is not true," Farley said. "Most people don't think about the Hispanic market being such a powerhouse in the industry."
Toyota says about 4 percent of its Prius and Highlander hybrids are currently bought by Hispanics. But the company says that data can be imprecise because it's based on buyers' surnames. Around 4.2 percent of all vehicles were bought by Hispanics in 2005, according to J.D. Power and Associates.
Toyota says the Super Bowl is popular with Hispanic viewers. Twenty-five percent of all Hispanics over the age of 18 watch the game, and half of those are under 35, a key demographic for the automaker.
Farley won't say what Toyota is spending for the ad, but last year companies paid around $2.4 million to run a 30-second spot. Toyota ran an ad for its Prius hybrid last year, but before that, it hadn't advertised during the Super Bowl since 1995.
The ads will reappear this spring on both English- and Spanish-language channels. Farley said the company also is working on spots that are geared to blacks and Asians.
"The whole spot is a symbol, of the importance of hybrids for us as a company, of the importance of the Camry to us as a company and the importance of the diversity of our consumer base," he said. "Hopefully they're going to see a company that acknowledges the wonderful diversity in our country."
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