Steve Young Gets Star Treatment

At first glance, consumers at Toyota dealerships might think Steve Young has gone Hollywood.

Beginning this week, movie-style posters will go up in 50 dealerships throughout Northern California touting the three TV spots that broke earlier this year starring the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback [Adweek, April 9].

By building on the TV ads, the posters offer a twist on traditional cross-promotional efforts, said Sharon Krinsky, creative director at Hoffman/Lewis, San Francisco, which created them.

The eye-catching posters showcase the football legend’s commercials as a studio would promote a film. As such, the project added “an extra creative twist to the job,” Krinsky said. The first run of approximately 1,000 posters cost the automaker less then $10,000.

Each poster focuses on one of the three spots that began running on network and cable programs in April. Unless the car models change, the ads are expected to run for as long as two years, Krinsky said.

For the spot titled “Uncle Steve,” in which Young returns home from a basketball game with his nephew in a four-wheel drive Toyota RAV4, the corresponding poster includes an image from the ad and the lines “Based on a true story. Steve Young is Uncle Steve.”

Smaller print below reads: “Northern California Toyota Dealers present a Sporty 4WD Production. Starring the redesigned 2001 RAV14 featuring a more powerful engine/removable rear seats/halogen headlamps.” The poster also suggests the commercial gets a PG rating for “Pretty Good.”

The other two posters tout ads for the 2001 Sequoia and Tacoma.

Both the dealers and Hoffman/Lewis said the posters are a good way to remind car shoppers about what Krinsky called “the Steve Young episodes.”

“We thought it would be beneficial for customers to remember the nice personality and humor of Young when they show up at dealerships,” said Henry Hansel, president of the area Toyota dealers advertising association.

Toyota was the best-selling car brand in Northern California over the past year, edging out Ford, Chevrolet and Honda, Krinsky said. Indeed, Northern California is the only region in the U.S. where Toyota ranks No. 1.

Hoffman/Lewis has worked with Northern California Toyota dealers since 1989.