Life after dead animals: Toyota Hilux returns with a story about mates

At the end of 2015, Toyota saw its big brand campaign for the Hilux pulled after social media outrage over the depiction of animals embracing hunters for an opportunity to be carried away on a vehicle. It was certainly a bold piece of creative that was always intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but the public spoke and the ad was unceremoniously pulled from air.

Now just over a year later, Hilux has returned with another ad by Saatchi & Saatchi. And this time it’s unlikely to result in too much outrage.      


In lieu of animals performing an epic sonnet, the new ad centres on a story of Kiwi mateship and showa scenes of two New Zealand blokes enjoying all the experiences the Hilux gives them access to. But rather than showing the guys as rugged, emotionless, cardboard cutouts of the Kiwi man, the spot shows that modern guys also have a softer side.

“The new Hilux redefines what toughness means,” says Saatchi executive creative director Corey Chalmers.  “At the same time, the idea of the staunch Kiwi bloke is going through a bit of a change as well. We wanted to reflect this new world in a tale of a mates helping mates, not just by towing something, but helping them through good times and bad. So while Kiwi blokes are often men of few words, when it’s time to chat things out, a decent hitout in a Hilux can be just the tonic to help them get through the rough stuff.”

This approach conveniently straddles both the rural and urban target markets. It shows that the vehicle is still capable driving on virtually any terrain, but does so in a way that still appeals to urban dwellers going on the odd weekend adventure.    

Toyota general manager of marketing Andrew Davis, who has stuck with the agency despite pulling the ad, says he is very satisfied by the end result.

“Hilux is a hero in our lineup and it’s great we can celebrate this model with a new campaign,” he says.

“We’re excited about the end result, and how Hilux is reflected in various environments throughout the story. From listening to our passionate customers, Hilux is more than just a ute. It’s a tool of trade, a part of the family and an enabler to do what you want.”

The campaign is already live on digital and a 90-second spot will air on television on Sunday night. 

Campaign credits:

Client: Toyota New Zealand Limited
Chief Executive Officer: Alistair Davis
General Manager UV & Marketing, Executive: Andrew Davis
Manager Marketing: Susanne Hardy
Marketing – Operational: Sonya Coutts
Creative Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Managing Director: Paul Wilson
​ECDs: Corey Chalmers and Guy Roberts
Creative Team: Steve McCabe and Kim Fraser
Digital Creative Director: Terry Williams-Willcock
Senior Producer: Josh Forsman
Business Director: Susie Darling
Account Director: Amanda Brittain
Head of Design: Rob Flynn
Motion Graphics: Tomas Cottle
Digital Creative Director: Digital Creative Director
Senior Digital Creative: David Hunter
Digital Producer: Matt Couston
Production Company: Good Oil
Executive Producer: Sam Long
Producer: Liew Griffiths
Director: Hamish Rothwell
DOP: Germain McMicking
Sound Design: Shane Taipari @ Franklin Road
Photographer: Ross Brown @ Match Photography
​Retoucher: Andy Salisbury
Media: Starcom
Sally Falconer – General Manager
Toby Yonge – Business Manager
Soundtrack: ‘You Got Me Singing’ – Leonard Cohen

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