Wear red braces.

In the mid eighties I worked on the Toyota account.

This was when we launched the ‘Oh what a feeling’ campaign. The concept came from Dancer Fitzgerald Sample in the States.

I remember when we first heard the line and were shown the ‘jump’. There were looks of shock and amazement on the creative’s faces.

But then the strategy was explained to us.

The proposition for Toyota was simple. Every vehicle they made would, in some way deliver, ‘The feeling of outstanding owner enjoyment’.

The creative expression of this was ‘Oh what a feeling’.

The jump was the mnemonic.

What we had to do was to find out what would deliver that ‘feeling’ and dramatise it in a memorable way. It didn’t have to be a rational reason – it could be pure emotion.

At this stage Toyota were hiring young and upcoming marketing executives from all the major automotive companies.

They were bright young men, sadly there were few women on car accounts in those days, and they were fixed in the ways of their previous employers.

Toyota was number three or four in sales, behind Ford, GM and maybe even Nissan.

So these new executives had come from brands that were outscoring Toyota in sales and marketing.

At one meeting, just after we had presented a TV concept, a recent acquisition from Ford requested that we should reconsider the creative direction. He wanted us to make it more like a Ford ad. His reasoning was that, ‘They were the market leader, so why not make our ads look like them.’

We continued to make ads that were different and it wasn’t long before Toyota became number one.

It wasn’t so much the advertising but a state of mind that came from the parent company.

Toyota designed and built vehicles for people to drive and enjoy, not for the edification of the factory.

They realised that they had to be different if they wanted to stand out in the world market.

It seems to me that brand managers are making the same mistake now as they did so many years ago.

Only now it’s with the ‘Brand Power’ style execution. Every second ad seems to use the same formula.

David Ogilvy was once asked why he always wore red braces.

His answer was simple. “I want to stand out”

It’s a pity there aren’t more marketing people who would like to stand out.

Leave a Reply