How I Ended Up in a Toyota Campaign

29 November 2012 | 0 Comments

Yep, so… this happened.

That’s me, in a campaign for the Toyota Venza.  It’s being shown and promoted online through Toyota Canada’s YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter feeds (you won’t see it on TV).  Since the video was posted, some people have asked me how it came to be.

To be honest, the whole thing was quite simple.  Toyota Canada’s marketing agency reached out to me by email.  They found me – I didn’t solicit this.  Toyota Canada’s Community Manager (aka, the person who helps manage their social media and online presence) told me they were interested in featuring me in the video because I’m influential online, to the tech and small business communities in my city.

The deal was pretty simple – I would be given a brand new Toyota Venza to drive for a week, in exchange for about 3 hours of my time, to be interviewed on camera.  I thought, “hey, free car!” and “why not, this could be fun”, so I agreed.  Important to note – I asked if I was supposed to blog or tweet about the experience, and the Community Manager said I was under no obligation to do so (but of course I could if I wanted to).  I did mention it a few times on Twitter and Facebook, but I didn’t blog about it until now.  I don’t usually blog about cars, and I thought it would be out of sync with the rest of my posts.

I had the car for the week, as promised, in late August (that’s a photo of the car, parked behind my house).  I will be totally honest here – it is a very nice car.  I really enjoyed driving it, and as you can tell from the video, I loved the way it synced up with my iPhone.  I drove Clara around in it, and she seemed to like it too.  I’m not going to run out and buy a Venza, but I did enjoy driving it for the week.

The film shoot we did for the campaign was a lot of fun.  The Community Manager, a camera man, and a director of sorts came over to my house and did some filming in my office, and then we all headed out in the car.  The guys were a lot of fun to hang around with, and it felt more like goofing off than work.  I was asked a lot of questions about the car, and then they filmed my responses.  It took about 3 hours to shoot, and it was edited down to 1.5 minutes of final video.  Of course, the whole thing was edited to make it seem like I really loved that car… but like I mentioned above, I do like the car.  I honestly didn’t have anything negative to say about it.

In the end, I did get paid a small fee for being in the video, but that was a technicality, and wasn’t part of the original deal (bonus!).  I think it’s because the clip was produced by a professional production company, which means they have to work with ACTRA (the film and TV actors’ union).  ACTRA has regulations about how much people should be paid to appear in campaigns.  So, even though I’m not an ACTRA member (I’m a web designer, not an actor), we had to do some paperwork with them, that resulted in me being a temporary ACTRA apprentice, and me receiving a small fee.

So, that’s it.  My 1.5 minutes of internet fame, care of Toyota Canada.  It was a great experience, and I’d happily do something like that again, as long as it’s for a product that I honestly like and endorse.  That was really important to me – that I be honest through the whole thing.  And I honestly did enjoy the car, so win-win for everyone.

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