Scandalous Toyota Auris ad proves androgyny can still freak people out

Michael Small
Yahoo! Autos Canada

You’ve got to hand it to Toyota – they’ve come up with an ad campaign that will garner plenty of buzz, and as the old saying goes, any press is good press. But do their shocking new ads attract the kind of  attention the company wants?


The campaign in question is centered around what appears to be a female model in revealing underwear and a jacket strutting towards an Auris. At the end of the ad, the topless model drops the jacket and turns to reveal that he is in fact male. The ad is causing a stir because it tricks viewers into thinking they’re looking at what’s perceived to be female beauty. The deception could rub more conservative viewers the wrong way.


While the commercials are getting plenty of attention, it seems like the ads are at odds with how Toyota both the car’s audience and the company’s track record.


Toyota is presenting the hatchback as an efficient, family-friendly vehicle in line with a VW Golf or Ford Focus. The commercials propose a decidedly edgier brand sensibility, however. That kind of messaging isn’t only off-brand for Toyota, which usually markets itself with strong ties to family, safety and dependability, but it could also drive away potential buyers looking for mass-market appeal.


The Auris is currently being sold only in Europe and Japan, with the campaign running in the latter. It will be interesting to see both how Toyota responds to the criticism, as well as how the Auris is received by buyers.