Images on vehicle manufacturer websites are supposed to make the cars and trucks look their best, right? The cars are shiny and the people in and around them are smiling. It’s pretty clear that your life will be better if you own that particular vehicle. You, YES YOU, could be that smiling person full of cheer with your spotless new ride. These same images are then plastered all over local dealership websites as well.
Paging through the different vehicle options, they are all very similar. Minivan? Smiling family taking advantage of the space and convenient features. Midsize car? Images of how roomy the car is while also being ‘cool.’ Truck? Scenes of the vehicle on the jobsite or on an off-road adventure. You get the idea – the manufacturer is playing to its target audience. Then there’s the Toyota Tacoma.
Sandwiched between images of the Tacoma on a family dirt bike adventure are two disturbing scenes involving a mime and the Grim Reaper. And Toyota has stuck with this advertising on the carryover 2015 Tacoma.
First, there’s the mime, apparently attempting to corral the Tacoma with his invisible rope. But because the Tacoma offers 6,500-lb towing capacity, the truck instead takes him for a ride. Of course, the site notes that it is the Tacoma with the TRD Off-Road Package that is doing the damage. And before you get your hopes up, it also makes sure to include the disclaimer “invisible rope not included.” Or maybe it is, and we just can’t see it, right?
If you want to turn me off on a vehicle, put a mime in the advertising. No one likes mimes. Heck, mimes don’t even like themselves.
In case you weren’t already leaving the page, the mime is followed up by a Grim Reaper sighting. Yes, right before you scroll to the safety features on the vehicle, Toyota puts the Grim Reaper next to the Tacoma while advertising the backup camera. A positive association if there ever was one. In a safety-conscious society, why not show a vehicle and the Grim Reaper in the same image? We can only hope that Toyota is doing this because the tired Tacoma will finally be killed off completely. It already lost its regular cab version in 2015. And there have also been heavy rumors on a full redesign in the 2016 edition.
There are videos that accompany the mime and Reaper, and two additional videos that I don’t even want to get into. None of them make the situation any better.
It all adds up to a poor marketing experience. The midsize truck segment is a tough enough sell, as truck buyers often opt for the full-size truck capabilities. Why Toyota seems to be making it harder on themselves by sticking with this odd advertising for the already outdated 2015 Tacoma is beyond me. Apparently they don’t fear the Reaper – or mimes for that matter.