Arguably one of SA’s most iconic advertising accounts, Toyota, is out to pitch and six agencies are in the running. The business is worth more than R245m/year and has been with the FCB agency for 50 years.

Toyota vice-president for marketing Glenn Crompton says the account is out to ensure corporate compliance. The car maker’s SA operation has undertaken a process to review all major suppliers to align with procurement requirements, as well as broader transformation goals. He describes the current relationship as very good, and one that is measured continuously.

Crompton says a number of agencies were initially asked to submit company profiles and a shortlist was created based on strict criteria, including broad-based BEE and a current client portfolio.

Brett Morris: This is one of our most important and enduring relationships. Picture: JEREMY GLYN
Brett Morris: This is one of our most important and enduring relationships. Picture: JEREMY GLYN

All six shortlisted agencies will be supplied a brief within the next month and asked to prepare a pitch based on the information. The process will follow the same template as other advertising pitches, but both the procurement and marketing divisions will be involved in the final decision.

Toyota won’t say which agencies apart from the incumbent FCB are participating.

Advertising that resonates with its everyman target market has always been a hallmark for Toyota and, year in and year out, it has always scored highly in most-liked advertising surveys.

The importance of brand and brand loyalty development were amplified this month by Toyota SA CEO Andrew Kirby, who said when an economy is struggling and consumers are being squeezed, they are more likely to go back to the brands they know.

Toyota aims to complete the pitch process by the end of November. While competing agencies will be aggressively chasing the account — given its badge status in the ad industry — FCB has set a high bar.

Crompton notes: "The nature of the relationship between Toyota and FCB over the years has been instrumental to the success of the partnership. Toyota and FCB have an excellent working relationship, and operate as business partners with mutual objectives. FCB is as closely involved in Toyota strategies, from inception right up to execution, as any of our internal divisions are."

FCB group CEO Brett Morris says of the pitch: "This is one of our most important and enduring relationships and we will approach it with the importance it deserves."

FCB deploys 30 dedicated staff to the account. Morris believes SA’s current recession is a good thing for the auto industry, echoing Kirby’s views on brand loyalty: "You will find more established brands always perform better in a recession, as they know from previous experience how to maintain their marketing spend ... We believe there is an opportunity in a recession to grow market share, but we also need to find more creative ways of creating more value."

Crompton says the auto advertising industry has to work harder, given how difficult it is for most South Africans to afford cars.

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