If you think about it, Toyota has achieved something pretty remarkable here. They’ve taken all the elements you think you’d need for true gearhead appeal: a good looking sportscar that I know handles great, footage of it being driven, hard, on lovely, twisty roads and exciting-looking tracks; and yet, somehow, they’ve managed to miss the point of the appeal of their own car completely. As far as fuck-ups go, this one is impressive.
They’ve also managed to un-invite huge segments of potential buyers, and they’re providing, at great expense, plenty of reasons to talk people out of buying the Toyota 86. This campaign is terrible.
Here, so you know what I’m talking about, watch some of these commercials:
Okay, first, they’re telling us this car is “not for groceries.”
Next, they let us know it’s not for picking up your grandmother, not for family vacations, and only maybe for your girlfriend.
So by now you’re likely wondering, okay, so what is this car for? And Toyota is happy to show you: tearing ass down roads and occasionally on the track.
Well, I mean it would be, if you were allowed to attempt such things, which Toyota tells you you’re not. (Granted, that’s standard lawyer boilerplate for any car ad, but the irony here is especially sharp.)
So, based on this, the Toyota 86 is not a car for getting food, moving people, or even allowing your significant other to enter. And, it’s not actually for tearing ass on the road in an aggressive, badass way, because they have to tell you not to try doing that. Which means it’s good for precisely nothing.
And what sucks is that I know none of this is true, and, even more importantly, almost everything that makes the 86 great revolves around how not true it is.
I really, really like the Toyota 86, even as a Subaru BRZ or when it was called a Scion FR-S. I’ve had it on a track, and I thought it was the most fun I’d had in a car in a long, long time. I’ve used one as a daily-life vehicle, which included the forbidden act of getting groceries, and it did just fine.
When I saw this part of their new commercials:
... I had to squirt some WD-40 in my eyes, because I was going to roll the fuck out of them, since my very first Will It Baby was for this very car.
Toyota is absolutely dead wrong about how they’re portraying their own car in this ad, because the best part about the 86 is that you absolutely can use it to get groceries, pick up any grandma you damn well feel like, and cram a baby in that little back seat. You can do all these things in the Toyota 86, and by using that particular car to do them, you can actually enjoy the process far more than you normally would. It’s not a fucking Ariel Atom. It’s got a trunk and a fully-enclosed interior and air conditioning and optional heated seats and all the other comfort and safety bullshit of any modern car.
I don’t understand this way of advertising; is it some kind of insecure misplaced machismo thing? The idea that you drive something so feral and raw there’s just no possible way you could throw a bag of groceries in it? Or maybe they want to imply that a Toyota 86 owner doesn’t buy groceries; he uses his Toyota 86 to hunt down gazelle which he rams into, then leaps out of the car to deliver the fatal bite to the gazelle’s carotid, pausing then to feed, deeply and wetly, on the still-twitching carcass.
You may note I kept using the pronoun “he” up there. That’s because Toyota made it clear they can’t sell this car to anyone who doesn’t use that pronoun:
So, the ad says “How To Make Your Girlfriend Happy” and then they say “Step 1: Send her away!” because, of course, there’s no fucking way she would ever want to drive this taught, nimble little sportscar, right? Tell that to all the women we know who have bought these things.
What am I missing here, Toyota? Was there a dick-insertion slot in the driver’s seat that you need to fill before the car will start? I don’t think there is. You want to make your girlfriend happy? Let her drive the fucking car! It’s a blast.
I let my wife drive the FR-S, and here’s what she told me:
This car is a lot of fun.
This car really rewards you for driving.
I’m pretty sure she wasn’t even driving it to a spa. In fact, she was driving it with a baby in it, possibly on her way to purchase groceries: the holy trifecta of Shit Toyota Says You Can’t Do in a Toyota 86.
But of course you can do these things. Even as a woman. And, by doing them in a car that’s rewarding to drive, life is that much better. Seriously, Toyota, what’s your plan here? You want to make this car seem so brutal and untamed that you think people will buy a Corolla as well, just to transport grandmas and canned goods?
Remember, dipshits, your car is only making a bit over 200 horsepower. And that’s part of what makes it so great, I think. It’s a car you can have fun in at speeds that won’t end you up in jail or a coffin. A Toyota 86 can be a blast to drive at 40 MPH on the right road, done the right way. You can literally have fun with your grandmother in that passenger’s seat, and I bet you can even make grandma have some fun, too.
This is the stupidest, most insecure ad campaign I’ve seen in a long time. It runs completely counter to a fundamental Jalop ethos: drive something you love. I’m a firm believer that one of your main priorities in buying a car is to find something you genuinely enjoy. That means that if you love the way a Toyota 86 handles and drives—and you absolutely should—there should be nothing stopping you from having one as your main car.
Sure, you’ll have to adapt for some things, and compromise for others, but if driving that car turns chores into joy, it’s worth it. That’s the opposite of what Toyota says in these ads: these ads say the Toyota 86 is an impractical car you can hardly use as a normal car, but it’s fun those rare times you can take it out to some amazing road with no traffic and magically free of laws, or, better, a track.
The basic tagline they use in these ads is “It’s not for everyone,” which, sure, is technically true, but then again, that’s true for every car, ever. The tagline for a car like this should be “It’s for anyone,” at least anyone who gives enough of a shit about driving to want to have something engaging and fun to drive. And, that can be anyone, including such weird niche groups as an entire gender, or food-eaters.