Toyota wakes up dormant car buyers

The auto brand positions its annual sales event as a way to make daydreams about getting back on the road come true.
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Toyota Canada’s annual sales event had to be delayed this year, but now that it is back on, the auto brand is using it to help Canadians fuel their desire to get back on the road as pandemic restrictions lift.

In the car brand’s latest campaign promoting its annual Red Tag Day sales event through various spots that show people daydreaming of Toyota vehicles while conducting some other task they’ve focused on while at home, like doing pottery or “washing” the dishes.

The campaign was created by The&Partnership, with the media buy handled by The Showroom, a joint venture between The&Partnership and Vision7 Media. The campaign’s 15- and 30-second spots are running nationally and regionally, with paid digital and social as well as video, display and SEM.

According to Arlene Aquino, strategy director at The&Partnership, Toyota saw a lot of “signals” and consumer desire of wanting to drive again during a lengthy pandemic lockdown, mainly through conversations on social media.

“That gave us a good indication that people are dreaming about being able to drive again and drive a good vehicle, again,” she says, providing the insight that led to the “stop dreaming, start driving” tagline.

In the early stages of the pandemic, the public was advised to avoid unnecessary car travel – not that there were many places to go, due to workplaces being closed and visits to friends and family being off-limits. Now that Canada appears to be on the downside of the pandemic curve and with public places opening up, Canadians may be feeling the urge to get out and drive now.

“There is indeed that passion for driving – people are dreaming about it because it was taken away from them due to our circumstances,” Aquino says. “People are being more positive and they’re anticipating the driving season, again. For them to be able to do so in a brand new Toyota, that’s going to keep them safe and that’s going to keep them confident on the road.”

In a survey of 2,000 Canadians conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Toyota, half of the respondents stated that staying at home during the pandemic has made them miss driving. While only 24% feel comfortable travelling by plane at the moment, 70% feel comfortable doing so by car, with 49% planning at least a day-trip out of town in the near future.

Aquino says safety and the confidence that comes with it has been Toyota’s “strongest scoring attribute” for the past decade, pointing to the car brand’s “Safety Sense” bundle features – which include things like pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control and lane departure alert.

Car sales in Canada have taken a drastic plunge during the pandemic, though research suggests Canadians are interested in buying new vehicles but are being held back by economic concerns. The extra value offered during promotional periods like Red Tag Days  are what make the customers’ dream of being able to drive in a quality vehicle a reality, according to Aquino.

“That’s one of the windows that we open for our customers to really attain the dream and the vehicle they want,” Aquino says.

This year’s edition of Toyota Red Tag Days runs from August until October. The event normally runs from April to June, but was postponed due to pandemic restrictions on dealership operations.