Toyota broadcast commercial in the desert

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know it came out a while ago, but I found this old blog that never got published while we were making the transition to our new website and figured it was still relevant since the spot is still airing on TV.


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I grew up in the lush green fields of Wisconsin and Minnesota where you can drive 10 minutes in any direction and find a pristine lake to swim in or boat on. When I moved to Southern California a few years ago, I never realized how much I would miss the forest, lakes, and green grass. I also didn’t realize how much time I was going to be spending in the hot, miserable, stupid desert.

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Although I don’t enjoy the desert, we at Sweatpants Media love Saatchi & Saatchi. We also love Toyota. So when they call and tell us to pack our bags for a week in beautiful Palmdale… we say, “OK great!” This time around, we were going to be producing two national TV spots and a handful of Instagram videos for the launch of Toyota’s new TRD (Toyota Racing Development) line. We also brought on Chris Burkard Photography to help us out with the photo side of the campaign.

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We lugged 50 people, grip trucks, The Ultimate Arm, and picture vehicles over two and a half hours outside of LA to the desolate “Club Ed” movie set. I’m not sure why it has to be so far away, but it is a really cool set. It features a rundown gas station, crummy hotel (and pool), diner, and auto mechanic shop.

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The first of the two commercials would be a “tease” to build excitement around the new line of badass trucks. We chased the Tacoma, 4Runner, and Tundra with the Ultimate Arm through the deep desert. We shot all close ups and moved the camera quickly so the audience would only get a brief glimpse of what the trucks would look like.

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The second commercial, which was to release a few months later, was a blast to shoot. We spent the day perfecting high-speed chase shots with all three trucks driving in formation like fighter jets. Big sweeping camera moves gave the audience a full perspective on each vehicle. When you get shots like we did, being one of six people crammed into a blacked-out Mercedes ML 55 doesn’t bother you at all.

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A special thanks goes out to all of the crew that busted their ass out there in the 100º heat. As always, we could never accomplish work that we’d be proud of without you.

BTS photos by Mikey Zeller

— Jonny

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