All posts in Advertising

Marketing During a Crisis: Toyota Takes Advantage of Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber and Safe Driving

Toyota uses 19-year-old Justin Bieber’s drunk driving arrest to promote its Safe Teen driving program.

Damn. The marketers at Toyota (or their media buying proxies) who are running their Teen Safe Driving project called TeenDrive365 are definitely not asleep at the wheel. They know how to market during a crisis.

Only hours after news of Justin Bieber’s drunk driving arrest in Miami splashed across the homepage of, Toyota went all-in and secured all of the prime banner advertising real estate on the page.

Beside news that the Biebs had been doing some early morning Fast and Furious driving in a Lamborghini in Miami while drunk and high, there appeared multiple bright red and black banner ads promoting Toyota’s PR project to keep new/young drives alive behind the wheel.

Is this irony? Should Justin’s mother enroll him in the program? After all, Mr. Bieber is just 19 and his mother probably needs to intervene before Justin follows James Dean and Paul Walker in the annals of “young stars killed while driving fast.”

The ads link to a destination page that explains the program and will probably make most parents glad their kids aren’t driving yellow Italian supercars in their teens.

Still, ignoring Bieber’s idiotic decision to drive drunk, a much more astute decision was the decision to jump on the media frenzy around the arrest promote what seems like a worthwhile educational program.  There’s no doubt click-through rates are going to be way higher for this ad buy than usual.

Kudos to Toyota’s marketing/advertising team. (They know how to market during a crisis, especially one that isn’t theirs).

Poking Fun at Suicide and Killing Dogs: The Two Worst Ads of 2013

Advertising in 2013 had some strong campaigns and ads. And then there was the bottom of the barrel.

The worst ad of 2013 for me is……a tie.

It was so close, it was impossible to materially distinguish between really awful and truly tasteless. Both of these ads were ones for the ages in both categories. They plumbed the “what the hell were they thinking?” depths.

The Worst Ad of 2013 (Part One) – Hyundai

Hundai greenlighted a television spot in the UK that made light of suicide. A man decides to sit in his car in a closed garage. He connects the exhaust to a hose and pipes the carbon monoxide-laced fumes into the car. But death doesn’t come; only frustration, because his car is a low-emission Hyundai. Yes, that’s right, suicidal people should choose another vehicle; perhaps a non-hybrid Toyota, Ford, or BMW.

AdAge has a good summary of the ad, and its fallout. You can also watch the ad there.

There’s really nothing else to say, is there? Except one; did the following people lose their jobs?

  1. Creative lead for the agency
  2. Marketing lead for Hyundai

The Worst Ad of 2013 (Part Two) – Pearl Izumi

Pearl Izumi’s enlightened marketing department approved a print ad about killing your dog. The highly compensated marketing gurus thought it would be fun and entertaining to demonstrate the enjoyment you’d have running in their shoes to the point that your dog would fall over exhausted and expire during a bit-too-long trail run.

The print ad showed a retriever lying dead on the trail as his presumed owner kneels over him, wearing nice shiny Pearl Izumis, trying to do what looks like CPR.

(Note to other shoe brands: there are myriad other ways to suggest that your customers will run farther because they will enjoy running so much in your products. Running across a big city to meet your girlfriend for a date. Geez, that took 10 seconds to come up with).

Pearl Izumi Dead Dog Ad

Nothing says “I Love Running” like a narrative of running your dog so long it dies.

 You Get What You Pay For

I’m pretty sure Hyundai spent at least $100,000 on bringing “homage to a guy trying to kill himself” to a TV near you, and that Pearl Izumi probably dropped $10,00-$15,000 showing how you could successfully kill No-Longer-Man’s-Favorite-Friend.

What an amazing waste of time, money, resources, and goodwill. I own 3-4 pieces of Pearl Izumi clothing; I won’t be adding to the list in the future.