Prius ‘Harmony’: What Toyota did differently to expand its audience, brand and sales

I recently worked as a writer on the new Prius ‘Harmony” campaign for Saatchi & Saatchi, LA (led by Mike McKay and Andrew Christou – full list of credits below). While the ads are on television a lot, there are less visible aspects to the campaign that – from a marketing point of view – are equally interesting.

What’s unique is how the fundamental strategic positioning created for the advertising campaign was expanded beyond the car. By doing this Toyota established new relevance for Prius technology and found a much wider audience.

Here are a couple of examples of how it was done.


Firstly, Toyota took the Prius technology to the streets by installing over-sized solar-energy generating flowers that were inspired by the TV commercials. Currently they’re in Boston but they will be installed in different parts of the world over four months. The flowers carry solar panels and provide free charging power and wi-fi to residents in each city.

The flowers dramatize the power of the Prius solar roof in a way that’s instantly meaningful to potential customers. That experience became a talking point among potential customers around the topic of Prius technology.


The second example is the branded content piece created by Toyota, Saatchi and GOOD magazine. By creating content that applied the ‘harmony’ concept on a global scale, the brand expanded its purview beyond its own products and customers.

In doing so, the brand became relevant to many, if not all, aspects of a potential customer’s life. Positioned in that context, the Prius became part of a larger cultural movement towards ‘harmony’.


Such a launch isn’t possible without a creative, confident and enlightened client. Often the greatest challenge to a successful brand or product launch is not the entrenched view of the consumer, but the blinkered view of the client as to the limits of its brand.


Taking such risks has yielded startling results for Toyota. Amid an historic slump in a contracting industry, orders have exceeded expectations even in the face of new competition from the Honda Insight. Japan has enjoyed 80,000 pre-orders and the Tsutsumi plant has had to reintroduce over-time to keep up with global demand.

Marketers must clearly define a brand and it’s voice but they should never limit its scope. As technology infiltrates all aspect of our lives, product relevance expands and advertising should follow.

When asked about their success, Prius Chief engineer, Mr. Otsuka, said that in terms of hybrids the Prius is ‘ten years ahead’. As stewards of such brands, we should expect the same of our advertising. Here’s a behind-the scenes look at the finished TV commercials.

Credits: Any car launch of this size is a massive collaborative effort. Here are some of the great people involved.

Client: Toyota Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles ECD: Mike McKay CD: Andrew Christou Integrated Design CD: Ryan Jacobs ACD Copywriter: Simon Mainwaring ACD Art Director: Tito Melega ACD Art Director: Sean Farrell Senior Producer: Jennifer Pearse Production Coordinator: David Weaver Director of Integrated Production/Multimedia: Tanya LeSieur Production Co.: The Sweet Shop Executive Producer: Stephen Dickstein Executive Producer: Susan Rued Anderson Director: Mr. Hide Edit: Bikini Editorial Edit: Avi Oron Telecine: CO3 Telecine: Dave Hussey Special Effects: Perceptual Engineering Special Effects: Fin Design Special Effects: Brickyard VFX Sound Design: Human Mix: Lime Studios Mix: Rohan Young

Solar Flowers Credits: Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi LA Client: Toyota Executive Creative Director: Mike McKay Creative Director: Andrew Christou Integrated Design Creative Director: Ryan Jacobs ACD/Art Director: Kelly Kliebe Art Director: Lindsay Montague Copywriter: Shannon Wilch Copywriter: Chelsea DuBois Copywriter: Elizabeth Alexander Director of Integrated Production/Multimedia: Tanya LeSieur Producer: Britta Couris Art Producer: Kristina Hicks Print Producer: Gloria Olegario Design: Poetic Kinetics Design: Patrick Shearn Design: Cynthia Washburn

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