by melinda bak
One Team was a bold move by Toyota. This 60-second commercial spot cost more than $10 million for airtime alone! Not bad, when you can reach more than 100 million Super Bowl viewers. With a nail-biter game and a buffet of engaging ads, time away from the screen came at a premium. If you missed this ad, you'll want to check it out below.
In contrast to what sounds like the set-up for a "walked into a bar" joke, the ad had an authentic feel as a Jewish rabbi (driving a Toyota Tundra) picks up a Christian pastor, a Muslim imam and a Buddhist monk.
Familiar friends, they harass one another about wearing seat-belts, differences in music preferences and getting to the game on time. The four men arrive late and are teased by an adjacent row of Catholic nuns who accuse them of throwing off the game with their absence. Being there matters. And the fact that they are all rooting for the same team - that's something Toyota is staking its reputation on.
This is Toyota's biggest Super Bowl appearance to date; an appearance which included another stellar ad, Good Odds, featuring Paralympic gold medalist Lauren Woolstencroft.
"It's been a wonderful experience partnering with Toyota on this global platform to tell my story of overcoming odds." said alpine skier Woolstencroft in a statement to media. "I hope that my story encourages and inspires others around the world to pursue their passions, and reach for their own personal best."
Super Bowl commercials are an annual reflection of our national psyche as advertisers thread the needle between our angst and hope. And this year did not disappoint. With discord swirling in nearly every direction - around the National Anthem, immigration and the MeToo/TimesUp movement (to name a few) - Super Bowl advertisers aimed to lift our spirits and make us feel connected,
Advertisers hope that the emotional response we have to their feel-good ads will make us feel-good about their brands. And I do feel good about Toyota; not just because they (like every other advertiser this year) grasped that objectifying women was no longer acceptable, and not just because they ran stellar feel-good ads, but because they did something no other advertiser dared.
They four-wheeled straight into the cloud of our collective discord and gifted us with a vision of unity. They steered us into the ordinary place of our lives where we encounter people whose ways and beliefs are incredibly different from our own. And there, in the midst of difference, we rise up, stand together and cheer for the same team.
"This is an unprecedented opportunity for our team at Toyota to share messages of unity, friendship, diversity and perseverance," says Ed Laukes, group VP for Toyota marketing at Toyota Motor North America, referring to Toyota's "Let's Go Places" campaign that will run not only at the Superbowl, but during the Olympics and Paralympics.
One Team was bold. Costly. And culture-leading. Toyota is leading the way, not only behind the wheel, but when it comes to driving home the reality that though different, we cheer for the same team.
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