Toyota’s push for global mobility at the Super Bowl

The automotive brand chose a Canadian Paralympic skier to demonstrate how it's shaping the future of mobility.

In March 2015, Toyota became the first mobility partner of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and two months later, it signed on as a worldwide partner of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

That partnership led the automotive company to launch its first global brand campaign, called “Start Your Impossible,” that includes a global anthem spot featuring 100 people worldwide.

On Sunday, Super Bowl fans were exposed to the latest phase of that campaign, with a 60-second spot featuring Canadian Paralympic alpine skier Lauren Woolstencroft, during the first commercial break of what is considered one of the biggest media events of the year.

The spot, titled “Good Odds,” highlights the life story of Woolstencroft, an eight-time Paralympic Gold medalist. In a first for Toyota, the spot doesn’t feature a specific vehicle, putting instead more focus on mobility and the seemingly insurmountable odds of winning a gold medal.

The U.S. team’s decision to feature a Canadian athlete during the Super Bowl was a “complete surprise” for Toyota Canada, says Jaime Humphries, director of marketing. Locally, it gave Toyota Canada “a place in the global campaign,” as well as “an attachment and a lot of relevance to our Canadian customers.”

As a mobility partner of the IOC and IPC (as well as the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees), Humphries says there were “very clear directives and a clear mandate” from the beginning that the latest ads would “only to speak where we’re heading with our vision around mobility and creating and really reinventing the future of mobility for all.”

Globally, Toyota searched for an athlete who had faced and overcome adversity to be featured in the spot, and it decided Woolstencroft was the perfect candidate. Toyota Canada was informed of that choice three or four months ago.

“Good Odds” was just one of three ads released by Toyota around the Super Bowl. It also aired a commercial as part of its continuing “Let’s Go Places” campaign on Saturday, and a third during the latter half of the game on Sunday.

In Canada, a total of 100 different people (including at least ten Canadians) are being profiled through the broader “Start Your Impossible” campaign. They include Sudarshan Gautam, who became the first person without arms or prosthetics to reach the summit of Mount Everest, and snowboarder Carle Brenneman, who will appear in another “Start Your Impossible” commercial that will air during the Olympics.

The “Start Your Impossible” campaign includes ten different creative elements, a website presence and a social component. Saatchi & Saatchi are handling Toyota’s media planning and buying locally.

In November, the brand began activating its COC and CPC partnerships, as well as its partnership with Freestyle Canada, in its “Towards Tomorrow” brand galleries. It will also have a dedicated “Start Your Impossible” area at the Canadian International Auto Show on Feb. 16.

Toyota’s worldwide sponsorship of the Olympics extends eight years. Of all the games included in the deal, Humphries says the 2020 games in Tokyo will present a “very interesting platform for us to engage with consumers on the mobility solutions.”