Toyota Design Boss Says "Pump That Up," But the Company's Ads Say, "It’s a Car"

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As we reported earlier this week, raffish-haired Akihiro Dezi Nagaya, Toyota’s global design chief, plans to implement a more aggressive design theme for the brand. “We have eliminated emotion. We need to pump that up” he said in an interview at the Frankfurt Auto Show.

Changing Toyota’s “quiet and non-offensive” image won’t be easy. Nagaya will be faced with challenges both from within Toyota, a company known for consensus-driven conservatism, and with the brand's consumer base. Nagaya recognizes that Camry buyers, for example, “don't want something too aggressive.”

There’s no question about that. My quietly moderate in-laws have driven Camrys for decades. I can firmly assure you, aggressive styling is not what they’re after.

But Nagaya goes on to say, “[the model] has the responsibility of being the highlight of the lineup.” Looking at the 2012 Camry, it’s clear the Camry Conundrum (to coin a phrase) has yet to be addressed.

As for the future, I think one of our readers, Jackson L., hit the nail on the head when he commented that conservatism has served Toyota well, suggesting they continue to apply it selectively (i.e. to the Camry) while dedicating the more aggressive styling to their sport models.

One model that will more readily reflect Nagaya’s vision is the new Yaris. The video below shows Dezi himself singing its praises while sexing it up in skinny jeans. Alas, as we’ve come to expect from Toyota, there’s an element of sad irony to the story.

As Nagaya attempts to move Toyota away from “having too friendly an image while lacking emotion” Toyota advertisers have begun feverishly promoting, you guessed it: a too friendly image completely lacking emotion.

After watching Dezi cooing over the Yaris’ lines, take a peek at Michael Showalter’s straight-faced pitch for the same model: It’s a Car… with wheels that go forward… and backward…

By Michael Denhardt


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