Adventures in Marketing: The Toyota Venza Attempts to Steal Subaru's Thunder

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
adventures in marketing the toyota venza attempts to steal subarus thunder

Toyota’s all-new Venza fills a two-row, crossover-sized void between the smaller RAV4 and the larger Highlander, and is essentially a return to what the Highlander was originally. To help draw in buyers to its resurrected nameplate, Toyota decided to use a long-standing Subaru ad trope: the family pet.

Toyota promises to empower Venza drivers to “discover the unlimited possibilities that await them on the road ahead.” And to that end, the company unveiled a new marketing campaign called “Seekers of New.” Its first ad spot, Lifesaver, is intended to display all the impressive features of the Venza, and relies on the all-new theme of a lost dog.

A small dog finds freedom from its owners and goes on a journey across an unidentified city that’s probably in the Pacific Northwest. The dog’s damp and despondent owners give chase and must rely on their capable crossover to find the dog.

Only the Venza can help its owners through the following tough driving situations: Rain in the suburbs, an empty city, a wet bridge, and a damp underpass. Along the way the couple makes use of the panoramic roof that becomes opaque at the touch of a button, and the rearview mirror that turns into a camera. Light hipster tunes accompany the ad, which ends with a triumphant reunion of wet people and misbehaving dog.

While the ad itself is relatively unremarkable, it does highlight how the mandatorily hybridized Venza might lack an identifiable customer base. While it’s in theory more stylish than the Highlander, it rides on the same platform. Venza’s entry price is within $2,000 of the larger and very well-established three-row Highlander, but its cargo room is less than RAV4. And unlike Highlander, there’s no V6 in any trim. Power comes solely from the hybrid 2.5-liter inline-four.

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  • Ajla Ajla on Sep 29, 2020

    The new Venza is one of the more attractive Toyota vehicles IMO, but for the pirce I think it is a mistake that it gets the RAV4 Hybrid engine instead of the higher output Highlander hybrid engine. Really that is kind of a thing with many of Toyota's HSD offerings right now. I'd say it should be: 121hp version in the Corolla, Prius, C-HR 210hp version in Camry, Rav4, UX 245hp version in Venza, Avalon, Highlander, Sienna, ES300h, NX 308hp version in RX, ES400h(new trim) 355hp version in LC, LS, RC(new offering)

  • Snakebit Snakebit on Sep 29, 2020

    I'm still smarting from the version one Venza TV ads in New England, picturing the typical Venza owning couples as stylish and well-groomed, while the Outback couple looked like disheveled hippies, probably the only time I found Toyota TV ads to be condesending and mean-spirited. Yes, I have a new RAV4 that I'm very happy with, but could have seriously considered a Subaru Outback or Cross-Tek had the dealer bothered to send a salesman out to talk to us in the 45 minutes we were perusing their cars outside. I honestly can't fathom the need for a new Venza, and understandibly, just the model name is a negative marketing factor to me when we're ready for a new car. Toyota, honestly, give it another model name, and this time, don't put down owners of competing models in your TV ads, just point out why the new(whatever)model needs to be in a car shoppers driveway.

  • MelanieRichardson GOOD
  • El scotto @jwee; Sir, a great many of us believe that Musk is somewhere (pretty high) on the spectrum and move on.I work on the fringes of IT. Most of my presentations get picked over extensively and intensely at meetings. I'm smart enough to know I'm not that smart and willingly take advice from the IT crew. I bring them Duck Doughnuts too. We also keep a box of Crayolas in the meeting room.At one meeting an IT guy got way into the details of my presentation, the meeting went long as we discussed my target audience. Same IT guy insisted it was a disaster and would fail miserable and that I was stupid. Yeah, F-boms get dropped at our meetings. I finally had enough and asked if he was such an expert, did he want to stand up in front of 30 senior executives and give the presentation? His response was a flat "NO". He got the box of Crayolas. For you non-military types that means shut up and color. Musk is the same as that IT guy, lots of gyrations but not much on follow-through. Someone just needs to hand him a box of Crayolas.
  • FreedMike The FJ Cruiser would be a better comeback candidate. The gang back at Toyota HQ must be looking at all those Broncos flying off Ford lots and kicking themselves.
  • Tassos 2015 was only 7 years ago. $58k is still a whole lot of $ to pay for a vehicle. FOrtunately one can buy a flagship vehicle with great active and passive safety for half this amount, if one does the SMART thing and buys a pre-owned luxury flagship vehicle. they have historically been SCREAMING BARGAINS. A breadvan on stilts SUV, wether the more compact Macan or the more bloated Cayenne will never pass as a Flagship Vehicle. No matter how well it drives or how reliable it suprisingly is. It still is a breadvan on stilts.
  • Sean Ohsee Bring back the 100 series and its I6 diesel.