No matter what you think of the ad’s imagery and message, the Chevy Silverado spots featuring John Mellencamp are a huge deal. Really. Advertising professionals aren’t the target audience for pickup trucks, but trucks like the Silverado and the Ford F-150 are what’s been keeping GM and Ford in business. American-built trucks enjoy a brand loyalty that the regular cars don’t have anymore.
That loyalty will be put to the test–as BusinessWeek reports, Toyota is gunning straight for the heart of the pickup business, right in the heart of Texas:
Toyota is taking aim at market share and the big profits pickups bring home. For any carmaker who can keep incentives low, a loaded full-size pickup can make $5,000 or more in variable profit.
Local press coverage of the new San Antonio plant has gotten Toyota plenty of buzz in the year leading up to the new Tundra’s launch. To add to that, Toyota aired commercials during National Football League conference championship games over the Jan. 20-21 weekend. In the commercials, the narrator—complete with Texas drawl—tries to appeal to blue-collar sensibilities by bragging about the Tundra’s transmission and towing abilities. “These ads are doing what they need to do,” says Jim San Fillippo, consultant with Automotive Marketing Consultants.
Toyota’s new Tundra plant in San Antonio is capable of building 200,000 trucks a year. Currently, Nissan and Toyota have less than 10% of the truck market. I have a feeling that’s about to change, big time. I believe loyal buyers of American trucks will give Japanese brand trucks a closer look now that their neighbors and fellow countrymen are building them. It’s subtle but it happens: after 18 years of driving Japanese-built cars, I always tell people that my new Hyundai was built in Montgomery, Alabama. For some reason, it makes me feel better.