Toyota Ads Target Black, Asian, Latino, And “Transcultural Mainstream”–But “There Is No Caucasian Market”


The New York Times has an article on the four ethnic flavors of new ads for the new 2018 Toyota Camry: black, Asian, Latino, and “transcultural mainstream,” which, I have to admit, is a new term for me.

The Camry has been the biggest selling sedan in the U.S. for the last 15 years (although it has fallen behind the Honda Civic so far this year), so Camry ads are pretty much of a blank slate, with each one promising a different type of person that a new Camry will fulfill all his or her deepest desires.


Different Ads, Different Ethnicities, Same Car

By SAPNA MAHESHWARI OCT. 12, 2017

Guess which race is targeted by this Toyota ad?

The black ad is by Burrell, a black Chicago firm that has been around a long time. (Mr. Burrell was on the Board of Directors in the 1980s of the marketing research firm where I worked.) It’s called “Strut” and it’s about a black guy who drives around playing rap music and getting lots of attention from the ladies.

The Asian ad by an Asian American ad agency is about an Asian American dad who has a Ten Year Plan to get his daughter an athletic scholarship to college in some under-subscribed Title IX sport.

The Latino ad by a Hispanic agency is a Latin guy who drives fast through the desert and who rebels by not picking up his mom’s call. There’s also a female version about an Alicia Machado-type who carefully applies flaming red lipstick before going grocery shopping.

In other words, each racial group enjoys stereotypical ads about themselves acting extra black/Asian/Latin.

And then there’s this one:

There are no white ads, however, just “Transcultural Mainstream” ads:


This commercial, titled “Thrill,” is one of four spots from Saatchi & Saatchi, and features a version of “Don’t Stop Me Now,” by Queen.

… The six actors appear to be a mix of white and nonwhite.

The agency recoils at the notion that, by default, its ads may be designed to appeal first and foremost to white people.

“There is no Caucasian market,” said Mark Turner, chief strategy officer of Saatchi & Saatchi, who is white. “The mainstream market as defined by any mass marketer like Toyota actually comprises many different cultures, so we’re not the Caucasian agency. We’re the agency that caters to the transcultural mainstream.”

The article doesn’t mention it, but there’s also this 50 Shades of Grey-style ad for the Camry:

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