Authentically Inauthentic: No Me Gusta Toyota Tacoma Truck Ad
Aaron Perlut | Partner

You may have seen it during the Super Bowl while endlessly waiting for a decent commercial to air. It was a milquetoast Toyota ad that tried to inject humor by depicting terrified passengers in the new Toyota Tacoma pickup truck going up a series of bumpy hills and holding onto the supportive grab handles above the door.

The passengers were so terribly frightened that they blurted out adorable phrases like “Shut the front door!” or “Seriously Rob!” and even “No me gusta!”

Ever since that fateful February Sunday evening, the ad has haunted me, largely because it’s just incredibly inauthentic.

After all, as pickup truck driver, I am their target audience. My first truck was a GMC, then I owned two Dodge Rams, and now I have another GMC Sierra. I love pickup trucks for whatever reasons, mostly for their utility (and because I have incredibly low self-esteem.) But I’ve never been in a pickup truck—nor any of the three Jeep’s I’ve owned, for that matter—that didn’t have an interior grab handle. Yet, here’s a commercial, airing during what is arguably the most important three hours of television in terms of volume of viewers, boasting about the most powerful Toyota Tacoma ever—and the focus for the viewer is a basic utility contained in nearly every truck or SUV ever made.

By contrast, GMC often focuses its truck narratives around how you can get premium luxury while also having a premium power package in a truck. You know, yeah ole’ “premium, and capable.” Dodge, on the other hand, tries to deliver you a double dose of Viagra through video by talking about the automaker’s “calling” to build trucks.

Which brings me back to the all new Toyota Tacoma and this inescapable ad that I continue to see over and over when I watch TV—and I just don’t get it.

In my mind, a car or truck commercial has to do one of two things: Entertain or Educate. If you’re going to entertain, you need to be funny. Truly funny. While if you educate, you want the viewer to walk away understanding what makes the product superior. And more than anything, the brand needs to know who its audience is—and this ad has always felt like Toyota hasn’t a clue. 

The all new Toyota Tacoma accomplishes none of the above. No me gusta!

Aaron Perlut
Aaron Perlut is a cofounding partner of Elasticity with some 30 years of diverse experience in journalism, public relations and digital marketing. He is a former senior reputation management counselor at Omnicom-company FleishmanHillard, as well as a communications executive for two of the nation's largest energy companies. Throughout his career, Perlut has counseled a range of organizations---Fortune 500s, state governments, professional sports franchises, economic development authorities, well-funded startups and large non-profits---helping manage reputation and market brands across diverse channels in an evolving media environment.
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