The Toyota GR Corolla is hitting the showrooms soon, so it’s time for some new ads. For Americans, the 300-horsepower AWD hot hatch is probably the most anticipated Toyota in decades, especially if you count only the cars fully developed by Toyota in-house. A series of new commercials are unified by a common theme — that Toyota now has three performance options in its lineup, not to mention a long history of sporting machines.
The GR Corolla is introduced in “Running Wild”, which features the rally-bred hatch (its powertrain is shared with the rest of the world’s GR Yaris, a homologation special allowing Toyota to compete in WRC) drifting through a number of scenarios. One such setting has the car messing up a carefully staged shoot by famed automotive photographer Larry Chen.
This spot has the most heritage cars. Included in the background are a Sports 800, AE86, JZA80 Supra, ST205 Celica GT-Four, and an A20 Celica Liftback. Then the GR Corolla keeps on drifting, through a warehouse with a different AE86 and Frank De Jesus’ 1UZ-powered A60 Celica, past pro drifter Ryan Tuerck’s trailer, and into the desert.
In “Meet the Family” the GR Corolla is now fully integrated into the Gazoo Racing household with its siblings, the GR86 and GR Supra. Akio Toyoda always said he wanted “three sports car brothers” and now he’s got ’em. More AE86s appear (or likely the same ones from the other ad).
Toyota almost seems to admit that two of the GR cars are brothers from another mother when a couple of tuners working on a GR86 admit that the family members are not related. The script is talking about FAM-lee in the Fast & Furious sense or rag tag enthusiasts, but it seems to unintentionally emphasize that the GR86 is built by Subaru and the Supra is built by BMW. It also manages to work in an anime-like scene reminiscent of the GR86’s ads.
The previous two ads were 30-second spots. Toyota has also made a couple of 15-second ones for more expensive ad buys. “Wild Season” shows the GR Corolla drifting around a single hairpin in slow motion as the seasons change from summer to fall to winter to spring.
It’s a neat effect that is probably going to just get lost in the constant content bombardment of our eyeballs. Just about every car commercial shows the product drifting nowadays, even when the vehicle has no business drifting (and yes, Toyota is guilty of this too). The average viewer will likely think it’s another case of filmmaking magic worked on a run-of-the-mill Corolla hatchback. It’s not Toyota’s fault here, but the combined fault of every automaker over-using drifts when it’s not necessary.
And finally, “Stick Together” is a pretty clever way to show that Toyota offers no less than three performance models with manual transmissions. Standard transmissions are no longer standard these days, so it’s refreshing to see a carmaker promoting this old school feature on the brink of extinction.
The GR Corolla probably doesn’t even need ads to sell. Only 8,600 will be built worldwide, with 6,600 coming to the US. There are about 1,250 Toyota dealers in the US but allocations will be distributed by market demand. That’s probably why the spots don’t do much in the way of explaining the car’s specific features. They’re treating the GR Corolla as a halo car to make the Toyota brand more exciting. Is it working?
UPDATE: There are a few more ads in the same, uh, family. As Yuri pointed out in the comments, a couple were hidden. Also, Toyota released another one after the article was written: