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Toyota Sets Sights on New Dimension in Ads to Boost Sales of Corolla

October 06, 1987|BRUCE HOROVITZ

Click. Those sweet days of youth, clicking through the View-Master, looking at 3-D scenes of the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls.

Click. In a bid to boost slumping sales of what was once its best-selling car, Toyota next week plans to flip back to those memories. But in a highly unusual magazine ad insert, it will replace the picture of Old Faithful with a shot of a Toyota Corolla set against the San Francisco skyline.

Some 14 million pairs of three-dimensional glasses--made of cardboard and plastic--will be placed in issues of Time, People and Cosmopolitan magazines. They work just as View-Masters do: When the glasses are placed in front of the eyes and held to the light, the three-dimensional image of Toyota's 21-year-old-car-in-search-of-a-new-image will appear.

"Some people will say it's a gimmick," said George Borst, corporate marketing manager for Torrance-based Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. "But we wanted a blockbuster ad that will get people to notice Toyota."

Indeed, with Honda now the leader in U.S. import car sales, Toyota apparently isn't getting the attention it wants. Now, advertising industry executives generally say that the ad--with the theme line, "a new dimension in quality"--will likely turn lots of heads. After all, this is believed to be the first time that 3-D glasses have found their way into any large-scale magazine advertising. But it probably won't be the last.

"This will be the talk of the town for a long time," said Bill Holiber, associate publisher of Inside Print, an industry trade journal. "And the recall of the ad will be tremendous--probably among the highest in years."

Although Toyota will not reveal the cost of the campaign, industry executives estimate it will run about $1.5 million--about half of what Transamerica spent last year on a so-called pop-up magazine ad that featured a nine-inch tall cardboard cutout of the Transamerica pyramid building.

"There's no way that someone will flip through the magazine without pulling out the glasses and looking through them" said Eugene Secunda, professor of marketing at New York University's Graduate School of Business. "People will be compelled to become involved with this ad."

Some, however, may become too involved. Holiber of Inside Print said that because the glasses will likely be so popular, a lot people who read the magazine in the hair salon or the doctor's office will probably never even see the ad because someone will have ripped it out before them. "From a pass-along standpoint," Holiber said, "the ad could be disastrous."

But Toyota executives insist that the ad itself will get passed around even more than the magazines. And surely, this is attention that the Corolla badly needs. The $8,800 subcompact had long been Toyota's best-selling car until it was nudged out by the Camry last year. Corolla sales actually fell nearly 10% last year compared to the year before, and Toyota executives don't want to see this slide continue. So, they have not only redesigned the 1988 Corolla inside and out, but also built around it the most costly print campaign in Toyota's history.

"We knew that Corolla needed a complete rehaul of its image," said Warren D. Benjamin, senior vice president at the Torrance-based ad firm that created the ad, Saatchi & Saatchi DFS. "As Corolla goes, so goes Toyota."

TV Guide Watching Ad Revenues Grow

While ad revenues for television are not growing all that fast, they've gone through the roof at TV Guide. In its 1987 Fall Preview issue, the magazine sold a record 156 ad pages--up 12.1% from 1986. And it posted record ad revenue of $14.7 million. What's more, the fall issue sold a record 18.5 million copies, Publisher Eric Larson said.

Yellow Page Users See Red Over Scarlet Ink

Could red ink result in unexpected red ink--at least in Yellow Pages advertising?

"A number of consumers think that red ink makes ads look cheap and unprofessional," said Doug Berdie, president of Consumer Review Systems, a St. Paul, Minn.-based consulting firm that tracks yellow page advertisers.

His firm recently polled more than 800 consumers, and its resulting 109-page study also suggests ways to cut yellow page costs.

Among them, yellow page ads that are three-fourths of a page are almost as effective as full-page ads. "I've talked to a lot of yellow page publishers," said Berdie, "and they tell me they're not really surprised with the survey results."

Well, not all of them. Donnelley Information Services, a yellow page publisher, happens to specialize in color advertising. "Our position is that color does work," spokesman Steven Fink said, "and it works very well."

No Such Number, No Such Phone for Drivers

Next time you're cruising down the San Diego Freeway, don't be so sure that the folks in the car next to you--with the cellular phone antenna--are really big shots.

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