By on August 17, 2018


If it wasn’t for celebrity ad appearances, I wouldn’t know that Jim Rockford James Garner thinks the Mazda 626 is a great buy, or that Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling chooses the Ford LTD over all other domestic two-door hardtops, simply for the cabin noise level. Meanwhile, red-blooded males across America still can’t shake those recurring thoughts of the Mercury Milan AWD V6.

We owe a great debt to Hollywood.

And Toyota now owes a big, fat check to Chuck Norris, a 78-year-old man famous for driving a Dodge Ram pickup in a show where violent men routinely and inexplicably dropped their guns in order to engage each other with fists. The automaker gets playful in its latest spot for a truck it can’t help but sell boatloads of.

Chuck Norris — martial arts star, film star, TV star, impervious to the aging process — signed on for a new Toyota TV spot (“Tough as Chuck”) featuring both himself and the Toyota Tacoma. And it’s remarkably cheeky and unserious in a way that’s sure to please adults with a sense of humor. Since most ads are such god-awful crap, this one stands out among recent entries.

We first see Chuck, decked out in his usual uniform of jeans and a comfortable cotton shirt, plowing his paw through a pile of concrete blocks placed outside a hardware store. It’s implied he randomly felt compelled to do this, despite the fact those blocks are simply on sale (half off, actually). A passer-by with a Tacoma asks him to autograph his truck. Norris, with a steely gaze capable of shattering tempered glass, says he’d be glad to. In a panned-out shot, we see he’s been at the hardware store all day, laying waste to concrete.

It seems there’s no resisting that urge.

With Norris’ name now scrawled on the Tacoma’s front fender, the truck gains a new personality, cueing up a macho yet hammy voiceover. “From the clenched fist of a legend rises a new action star,” states the narrator, as the Tacoma, in an overhead shot, scrawls Norris’ smiling visage onto the blacktop with its own burning rubber. If you remember the opening titles to the award-winning and critically acclaimed Pam Anderson show VIP, you’ll spot the voiceover similarities.

Anyway, this truck is now an action hero. It rescues a Scout leader sinking in quicksand by shooting a rope into the hapless dude’s mouth, dragging him to safety. But a hero’s work is never done, even when the sun goes down, the narrator suggests with a heaping dose of salaciousness. We then see the Tacoma at a disco, impressing a sultry dancer with hair like Donna Summer while standing completely still. It’s a truck.

Later, the Tacoma slides into place with a bed full of mattresses just in time to save a workman falling from scaffolding. Then it’s on to rescue a kid’s football from a tree before slowly — and creepily — receding back into the foliage. Can a Tacoma beat a well-dressed opponent at a Russian chess match? Shut up, you know it can. What about surfing a mighty wave? The Tacoma eats waves for dinner. And few people remain unaware that Tacomas deftly put aggressive Japanese ninjas on ice.

Suddenly everything changes, and we’re in the office of a low-grade talent agency watching Norris bemoan the fact that he was replaced in a role by a truck. The agency rep, mainly ignoring him, seems mighty jazzed by the Tacoma the clips she’s watching on a cheap cathode-ray TV. Behind Norris we see a movie poster: “Tacoma Thunder.”

The purpose of nearly all commercials seems to revolve around the wasting of another 30 seconds of one’s rapidly shortening life, so Toyota deserves kudos for dropping the bland seriousness, contrived happiness, and sickly cuteness found in other ads and going straight for feel-good lampoon. As your author hates most things, this counts as high praise.

[Image: Toyota/YouTube]

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7 Comments on “Adventures in Advertising: I Love What You Do for Me, Chuck – Let’s Go Places...”

  • avatar

    And to think, since I turned off the TV part of my cable package I’m missing out on all of this….this…..”entertainment”. Is this really a nationally broadcast ad? Or is this for the Greater Boise Toyota Dealers or some group of similar size?

  • avatar

    Kinda funny. The Expendables movie series has done well because of old action stars spoofing their tough-guy personas. This is just an extension of that genre.

  • avatar

    Nah, it should be Walker Texas Ford Ranger! Actually I bet a lot of his fans will be pissed over this.

  • avatar

    “We owe a great debt to Hollywood.”

    No, we don’t; Mr. Serling notwithstanding.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    We’re used to Jan and “Toyathons”. Most Toyota advertising is just gawd-awful, including grounded to the ground and the new ad showing Tacomas escaping from a corral. Perhaps the less than brightest Toyota executives were out in the marketing department?

    • 0 avatar

      Speaking of Jan, I know she was pregnant a while back but seeing her this past week in the Toyota end-of-year commercials, she’s quite skinny. Did she lose the weight that fast, or was this an old commercial?

  • avatar

    I love it. Kudos also to Chuck for finding yet another way to remain relevant while poking fun at his own public image.

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