Toyota commercials have been extremely bad since the “I love what you do for me” jump was discontinued. Like completely, utterly, forehead-slappingly bad. Even with the Supra they tried to be cool but ended up sounding like a stepdad trying to tell you what’s “lit”. The latest ad, however, stands out because it does away with all the cringey pretense and gets right to the core of what the car, a pair of GR86 coupes, should be.
You get a pair of cars, a lonely mountain road, and shots of the GR86 doing what it does best. There’s no soundtrack except for the revs of the 2.4-liter boxer using its 228 horses and 184 lb-ft to their fullest. The lead car consists of the proper setup — white, 6-speed manual — while a red automatic follows.
The mainstream viewer will see dramatic footage of two sports cars and get an earful of exhaust note. That’s already pretty good, but the commercial also throws a nod to those who know the 86’s heritage. It’s a classic touge battle, the kind fought by so many AE86 predecessors and made famous worldwide by Initial D.
The ad’s not perfect. We could’ve done without the text, especially the “Take a Stance” directive at the end, but we get it. It has to appeal to general buyers who, bless their hearts, might want a sporty car but not a stick.
As it happens, a Japanese commercial released on the same day takes a very similar approach. Except in this one, Toyota is promoting a Japan-only one-make race series for the GR86 and Subaru BRZ. There’s a car, a track, and no music except for the final title card. This is likely an opportune coincidence, as Toyota uses separate and unrelated ad agencies in Japan and the US.
These ads work because they don’t try to hype up the car into something it’s not, like a Prius that can outrun cops or a Camry that’s an F1 racer. Like the GR86 itself, the commercial takes a minimalist approach and comes out better for it.