The yuck factor of Toyota's ad competition

I recently came across the winning entry in The Clever Film Competition, sponsored by Toyota's Australia division and the PR agency Saatchi and Saatchi. The video below won top honors, with the creators taking away $7,000 in prize money. The judges were people from Toyota, the agency, and those in the target demo of the Yaris. The words running through my head while I watched this award-winning piece? Yuck. Eww. Crass. Tasteless. Tacky. Vulgar. And, yuck, again.

No sooner than this winning entry, entitled "Clean Getaways", was placed around the web, Toyota suffered a huge backlash. Their response? This is not a spot which will air on TV. It's simply user-generated content (UGC) which the jury thought was funny and well made.

Do you think companies bear responsibility for promoting tasteless UGC? Because they didn't produce it, do you think that gives them a pass from any negative publicity? To me, anything that a company promotes is a reflection of its brand--regardless if it's UGC. If your company puts it out, you should be prepared to own it. Too harsh?


  1. Amber,

    You're right - it's tasteless and, perhaps worse, not even funny.

    I think using the explanation that it's UGC is neither here nor there, surely any brand has a responsibility to ensure anything which is generated in its name accords with its values and identity, clearly this does not. I cannot imagine anybody would actually choose to buy a Yaris (or even look at one) based on this.

  2. If I remember correctly, your KFC/Racism post was about an ad from Australia as well, correct?

    I think this may be another example of what's acceptable in one culture might come off as unacceptable in another. Certainly any fans of Monty Python could attest that that.

    I can honestly see this add being run in England for example and it being perfectly acceptable. Check out YouTube and you will find foreign commercials that would give the FCC a heart attack!

    Great post :)

  3. Alex: Thank you for leaving such an articulate comment! I agree with you completely.

  4. Tom: What an astute observation! You are absolutely correct; that KFC ad DID come from Australia. Although I hadn't mentally linked this post to the one on KFC, I do think you may have a valid point. Again, perhaps an issue of varying cultures and different ideas of what is acceptable. Thanks for bringing that up.

    As for Monty Python, I think your analogy is insightful. Personally, I have never found British humor funny, but I frequently find myself in the minority on that issue.

    Thanks for taking the time to bring an interesting take to the conversation!

  5. Too harsh? I think not. I agree with your statement 'If your company puts it out, you should be prepared to own it.' It's obvious (to me anyway) that they are targeting the younger crowd or first-time buyers. I get that. Frankly, I'm just tired of all the sexual innuendo seen in ads. But that's a different blog post all-together.

  6. Marianne: A kindred spirit! Even when I was younger, this is not the kind of advertising or humor that resonated with me. I completely agree with you. Enough with all the cheap innuendos. How about some clever, witty content???


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