On A Painting It’s Art. For A Car Commercial It’s CREEPY.

CREEPY was the first word that came to mind as I watched Toyota‘s new “Family People Person” Prius commercial. Next was “disturbing” and then “I don’t get it.” (I actually do “get it” now or rather, I get what they are “trying” to say after it was explained to me in the “Making of Toyota Prius Family People Person” video.) And while I “get” the Andre Martins de Barros artful concept they were  mimicking, I still think the spot is disturbingly creepy.

Toyota and Saatchi & Saatchi are, no doubt, attempting to further exploit the success of their 2010 and 2011 “Man, Nature and Machine” spots. But much like Hollywood learns, sometimes the sequel just isn’t working. It becomes much like trying to pull your nose out of your butt… oh… wait…..

As much as I like the first ones, I detest the 2012 version. Thank goodness for the big yellow alarm clock. I know exactly when to switch the channel.

But it may just be me. I’d love to know your thoughts on the poll below.


Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

3 Responses to “On A Painting It’s Art. For A Car Commercial It’s CREEPY.”

  1. Who knows what lurks in the dark spaces of a Saatchi and Saatchi mind? This ad, just like the provocative artist’s original work, is supposed to be a tad creepy. At least this ad gets people talking (the buzz on the street and online seems split between ‘creepy’ and ‘brilliant’). For me, it is utterly mesmerizing to watch, and how many other ads can you actually say that about?

    Toyota Canada, for example, recently ran a downright weird ad featuring NBA basketball star Steve Nash stealing a little old lady’s spot in a wide empty parking lot. Not one bit mesmerizing – just Steve acting like a jerk. How is this going to sell cars?

    In Advertising Age’s ‘100 Best Ads of the 20th Century’, one of the three criteria used to rank ads was: “It is simply unforgettable”. More on this at “What Makes Good Advertising Work?” – http://ethicalnag.org/2011/09/28/what-makes-good-ads-work/

    Personally, I’ve seen quite enough forgettable ads, haven’t you? The real test, of course, as with all creative exercises: will this people person actually help to boost sales of the Prius?

  2. Thanks, Carolyn. All great points. I think the problem for me is that it “left” me very unsettled. I appreciate the conceptual and artistic approach of one person being made up of people. And the “making” of it was mesmerizing. But the execution was awkward and forced at best. The final person looks like an axe killer and most disturbing for me is when he begins to disassemble. It feels as those he locks those people up every night and lets them out in the morning into a fake world as they “will” be coming back that evening. Or possibly that he has a multiple-personality disorder. Nothing about it feels like a “family.”

    While not everyone will attempt to analyze the spot this deeply, I did so in an attempt to understand why I subconsciously switched the channel at first glimpse of the yellow clock. So, for me, I most likely won’t forget it right away, but it will be stored with the unpleasant memories I have as opposed to the pleasant ones. The ones my mind works hard to forget.

    Art is supposed to be up to one’s interpretation. Advertiser’s, however, have a responsibility to appeal to a high percentage of their market and leave potential customers with a good feeling. In the mood to buy, if you will. Not a subconscious weird and ominous feeling about the product that they are sure to remember. While rewarding to the agency, it does not typically translate to sales for the client.

    So yes, we both agree that the real test will be whether or not it improves sales. As David Ogilvy said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” Time will tell.

  3. I say unattractive. Yes, clever, but unattractive. It looks like your other readers feel the same.
    Here’s the video of behind the scenes – which is far better than the commercial.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qmsV6SFSa8

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