Digging through a copy of Time Magazine that I bought to read on my flight from Chicago to London, I found this full page advert from Toyota.
Now, being number 1 is certainly something to be proud of, but I can’t help feeling that this smacks of tongue sticking out, raspberry blowing bragging and the marketing agency for Toyota produced this with a lack of passion and a touch of complacency about their spot at the top.
For the space available, they could have used lots of different selling points to freshen up their copywriting so that it’s not ignored.
Sound harsh? Let’s explore a little further…starting with:
In Bob Bly’s book, The Copywriting Handbook, he explains the 4 Us of writing headlines which was developed by his colleague Michael Masterson.
Bob states that a strong headline should rate a 3 or 4 out of a 1-4 scale for at least 3 of those U points. Let’s also bear in mind that the focus of you headline should be on your consumer.
Now Toyota’s headline is:
What makes Toyota the #1 choice among consumers?
So let’s have a look. Urgent? Nope. Unique? Well I guess the number one spot is unique. I’d have to say that the generic term of “consumers” rates it down for being ultra-specific and I’d be inclined to say that this information appeared only mildly useful.
It could very easily be answered with the response “Who Cares?”
More engaging headlines might have included:
Discover The Top 3 Reasons Your Neighbour Drives a Toyota (and Why He Doesn’t Want You To Know)
As A Thank You For Making Us #1, We’re Going To Keep Making You Happy By…
Find Out Why people Are Rushing To Buy A Toyota Before April 4th (And It’s Not Just Because We’re #1)
I’m sure that with the research and demographics at their fingertips, they could have created a headline that spoke more directly to their target audience.
So, after the headline comes the:
Lack Of Benefits
In case, you can’t read them on the photo, the reasons Toyota uses to show why they are number one include:
- Toyota has the best overall value of any full-line brand
- Toyota has more hybrids on the road than all of the other automakers combined
- Toyota makes the longest-lasting vehicles and is the most fuel-efficient full-line automotive manufacturer
- Actually it could be any number of reasons. Whether it’s mpg, quality of value, Toyota has more of what people are looking for.
To me, it seems as though these have been pulled straight from a company report, rather than being put through the filter of “What is it about these points is important to our customers?”
For example, I’m guessing you don’t wake up in a morning and think
“Gosh, I really wish I could get more mpg, and find the most fuel-efficient full-line automotive manufacturer…”
I’m guessing it’s more like this:
“Damn it, I can’t believe the alarm has gone off so early. Okay, get up, need to pack for the trip to mum and dad’s. Must make sandwiches and bring games for the kids for the journey. Well, the suns shining at least, but that means traffic’s going to be hell. Ah, and I need to put petrol / gas in the car, hope I have enough cash, darn, I’m going to have to put it on my card. Wish I didn’t have such a gas-guzzling piece of junk that’s constantly spewing fumes. Wonder if we can set off before Sally “We’re leaving the planet to our grandchildren you know…” Jones is up washing her beautiful enviro-friendly car… I’m going to get a raised eyebrow for sure but there’s no way I could afford what she’s got, it looks like it costs a bomb. . Ach, well, let’s get this journey over with…
So let’s have a closer look at those benefits.
POINT 1: “Toyota has the best overall value of any full-line brand”
I have no idea what this means. How is it best value? Does it save me money in ways I didn’t expect, or is it more affordable than I’d previously thought? Why should I care that there’s value across the full-line brand? Is it because currently I don’t think I can get an affordable car that isn’t ugly?
Answer those questions and you have a rich resource of compelling benefits to tell the reader about.
POINT 2: “Toyota has more hybrids on the road than all of the other automakers combined”
Okay, so Toyota has a lot of hybrids on the road.
That’s an impressive number, but numbers alone aren’t as compelling as a story behind it.
What they could have done here instead is tell me that my neighbours, my friends and people I admire and respect are driving hybrids. Tell me about the advantages of having a hybrid car such as buying incentives (if applicable).
Don’t assume I know why a hybrid car is something that I want, remind me or educate me instead.
POINT 3: “Toyota makes the longest-lasting vehicles and is the most fuel-efficient full-line automotive manufacturer”
This is a classic feature without benefit.
“Longest –lasting vehicle” and “fuel-efficiency” sound like they should be important, but they also sound dull.
Tell me I can save an average of $1,000 over X years on lower fuel consumption, and tell me I can save $1,000s by not having to buy another car so soon and you’re starting to get my attention. Translate those features into benefits I care about, or dollar amounts that catch my attention and you’ve got me engaged.
THE GRAND FINALE: “Actually it could be any number of reasons. Whether it’s mpg, quality or value, Toyota has more of what people are looking for.”
“It could be any number of reasons” sounds arrogant.
In fact, this whole sentence sounds like they’re bored and can’t be bothered explaining things to you anymore.
And why should they? They’re number one (they don’t need to “try harder” so to speak).
“Toyota has more of what people are looking for” couldn’t be vaguer. More what? What are people looking for? Why should I care about that? Tell me you give me more comfort, more style, more money saved, please Toyota, tell me why I should be in love with you as others are!
The Call To Action
“Come in for great savings before April 4th”
This is the “call to action” and a flimsy one at that. What are “great savings?” Is that $100, or $1,000. How much can I expect to save before April 4th in comparison to after April 4th. What’s the real incentive for visiting a showroom and checking out a Toyota? Make me want to keep this, make me want to put a note in my diary to pop by your showroom, or to call for an appointment.
This call to action sounds very much like Toyota couldn’t give two hoots whether you come in or not.
In a full page, Toyota had so many opportunities to thank their customers, to enchant and engage potential prospects, but instead chose to assign a budget for a lack-lustre advert about why they’re #1.
I don’t doubt that Toyota are passionate about what they do and have risen to the top for good reason, but unfortunately, what’s communicated is a total apathy, boredom and arrogance towards the product, and the people who have put them there.
I’d love to know your feedback on this advert. Does it stand out to you? What would you have changed? Would you have ignored it? Let me know in the comments below.