How do you catch a Prius?

Last night, during Super Bowl 50, advertisers had trouble keeping up with Toyota. Sure, there were some crowdpleasers–like the Doritos ads and the Hyundai “First Date” ad with Kevin Hart, but Toyota surprised us all with a commercial for their Prius 4 that was pure advertising genius.

Watch “The Longest Chase” here:

Saatchi and Saatchi brought Toyota back to the Super Bowl ad game in style after an 11-year hiatus. And after this showing, I hope they come back next year.

Stealing the show with great advertising

Anyone can be funny in an ad, and those ads do well with viewers, especially during the Super Bowl. But Toyota’s ad was creative, funny and at the same time informative–displaying all the features of this new model in an entertaining way we’ll all remember. The key to pulling all of this off is that they didn’t take themselves too seriously and were willing to make fun of themselves to drive the point home.

Check out all these features they display while you’re being entertained:

  • Roomy – “Is this a Prius? It’s very spacious.” In case you missed that they fit four adult men into the car with room to spare, one of the characters utters that line.
  • Performance – Police call in to report the chase and the dispatcher replies, “How hard is it to catch a Prius?” Police response: “This thing’s actually pretty fast.” And we watch it snake through the busy city streets and pull some pretty sweet moves in the process–something you’re more likely to expect in a sports car commercial.
  • Mileage – The Prius goes and goes wearing out the cops in pursuit.
  • Quiet running & maneuverability – As the police sleep in their cars, the Prius quietly slips between the cars and away into the night.

In addition, you see the interior of the car, including its cute little gear shift, a backup camera and even autonomous braking for emergency situations. Plus, the red sculpted exterior of the car sells the high-performance as well.

This is basically a feel-good mini-movie from start to finish in which the product is the star. Crowds along the way cheer on the Prius and halfway through viewers want to join right in.

Yes, the Hyundai “First Date” ad was rated the top Super Bowl ad, but that really had more to do with the humor and the popularity of Kevin Hart–I mean, the man is on fire right now and can make pretty much anyone laugh.

It was a good ad, but which product are you more likely to remember? I think you end up remembering Kevin Hart more than the car, whereas with the Toyota ad, you remember the Prius. That’s what advertising is supposed to do.



Doctor smiling and talking on phone

Why Don’t Doctors Need Super Bowl Commercials?

Doctor smiling and talking on phone

If you’re wondering why my blog post for the week is late or why I didn’t write about Super Bowl ads, the plain truth is that I have pneumonia and decided to take care of myself first. And, full disclosure, sometimes the fever associated with consumerism and Super Bowl commercial madness makes me sick too, so I didn’t watch the game or the ads this year.

This juxtaposition between all the doctors’ offices I’ve been in lately and the super-hype over the Super Bowl ads has me thinking.

How do doctors get customers without marketing and what can businesses and marketers learn from them?

Word-of-mouth advertising

Basically doctors get patients through old-fashioned word-of-mouth advertising. How did you find your doctor? Most likely, a friend or family member recommended the doctor to you.

Yes, a doctor’s practice is much different than a retail store or other business. But one concept is the same. It’s the reason doctors and small local businesses don’t need to spend $3.7 million for a spot during the Super Bowl.

What’s the reason? Why does word-of-mouth marketing work for doctors so well?


I’ve had the same primary doctor for almost 20 years. I have to drive almost 45 minutes to get to her, and I dread the day that she retires.

Why? Because we have a fantastic relationship. I trust her as a doctor and a person who has my best interest at heart. She trusts me as a patient. Her reputation—or her brand—can be summed up as smart, trustworthy, reliable and caring. Everything you’d want in a doctor.

Now think, is there a store or a business you’ve been going to and exclusively relied on for 20 years? 10 years? 5 years even?

I’m guessing most people might be able to answer “hairdresser” to that question…if you’re lucky. And if you’re really lucky, maybe one or two more businesses, most likely small, local ones.

I went shopping with a friend of mine not too long ago to Bloomingdale’s. It’s a place where I never shop, yet my friend returns there regularly. One of the things she kept saying was, “I wish Sheila was here. I wish Sheila was here.” (Okay, the name wasn’t Sheila, but I can’t remember it. Not important.)

The point is, my friend gets a consistently great shopping experience at that particular Bloomingdale’s from that one salesperson, who has come to know her likes and dislikes and makes her shopping more efficient and pleasant. And, if I decide to start shopping at Bloomingdale’s, I’m going to ask my friend what that salesperson’s name actually is and then go find her.

Why do big brands and even medium-sized brands need to spend millions on Super Bowl ads and regular TV advertising? Because they’re not good at building relationships with their customers. They just want to sell products.

And yeah, if you sell a fantastic product, that will get you good word-of-mouth advertising too. But unless you’re Apple and all your products are that good, you’ll still need to keep spending big bucks on those TV ads.

Don’t believe me? Then answer this question—how did Zappos build such a great business?

I’ll give you a hint. The word you’re looking for starts with an “R” and rhymes with “She hates her hips.” Zappos built their brand on it. You can too.