Understanding Your audience


Chicago-based Burrell Communications was tasked with rolling out the Toyota Venza, a new crossover, to an African American audience. We partnered with Burrell to provide insight for the development of a 30-second Super Bowl spot.


We interviewed 17 African American consumers, nine of whom had purchased a crossover in the previous six months and eight that were considering a purchase. Our goal was to encourage people to talk about an imagined experience. We sent them images of the Venza and asked them to collect images about what it would be like to own and drive one.


The imagery and consumer language yielded rich metaphors for storytelling. The key idea that emerged was "What I drive is what I am." When you enter a vehicle like the Venza, which is distinctive on the outside and surprisingly luxurious inside, you feel elevated and become a "higher" version of yourself. Given the history of discrimination against African Americans, this was a particularly salient emotional benefit.




Based on our findings, Burrell created a TV spot for the Venza called "Faces," which aired during the 2009 Super Bowl and garnered an Ogilvy Award from the Advertising Research Foundation.

Venza became the Official Vehicle Partner of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's 50th Anniversary Tour. A live media art installation entitled "Are You Venza?" featured Ailey archival photography coupled with sculptural elements featured in the "Faces" ad.

Ad tracking revealed higher brand endorsement for Venza than all key competitors and follow-up research showed that African Americans saw the Venza as contemporary, sophisticated, and intelligent.


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