It’s a publicity stunt of mammoth proportions—well, 300,000-pound proportions, to be exact.
On October 13, 2012, the Toyota Tundra, a half-ton pickup truck, will tow the 300,000-pound Endeavour space shuttle the last quarter-mile stretch of its cross-country journey to its final resting place, the California Science Center.
The creative team at Saatchi & Saatchi L.A., headed by Verner Soler, senior art director, and Graham McCann, senior copywriter, had been working to develop a television campaign that would demonstrate the Tundra’s enormous towing capacity. "They were thinking of what the Tundra could pull to show off how amazing it is. They came up with ideas like towing a satellite or a UFO across the country," said Chris Adams, executive creative director at Saatchi L.A.
When they saw the news that the Endeavour was going to make its final landing in Los Angeles en route to the California Science Center, where it would be on permanent display, their plans became clear.
"We realized it could be much bigger than a TV ad. It could be history," said Adams. Conveniently, Toyota already had an existing relationship with the California Science Center.
Although there’s no paid TV component, the campaign will, no doubt, get airtime when news crews cover the "finish-line" celebration planned at Exposition Park in Los Angeles as the Endeavour arrives at the Science Center towed by the Tundra.
"We are moving something that the people of the United States have been watching for years, a national icon. But it’s really heavy and it’s also quite big," intones Greg Bryant, Toyota’s engineering consultant in "Toyota Presents: The Tundra Endeavour - The Challenge," a YouTube video whose action movie soundtrack highlights the seriousness of the Endeavour’s endeavor.
The video’s hyperbolic description dramatizes the challenge of this publicity stunt: "The Toyota Tundra is forced to take on a near-impossible task before embarking on an historic mission."
The video, which is also available at the Tundra Endeavour site, is the first in a series of five videos, which will chronicle the efforts leading up to "launch" date.
Just a few days after it was posted, the video has over 46,000 views on YouTube with no paid media driving it.
There’s also a social component to the campaign, as well as a philanthropic one. For every tweet sent about #tundraendeavour, Toyota will donate $50 to the California Science Center up to $500,000. At press time, the drive has already hit $17,000.
The website, which launched on September 17, counts down the weeks, days, and hours until "a half-ton trucks tows its way into history." In addition to the behind-the-scenes videos, there will also be photos, children’s activities, and more information about the Tundra Endeavour project and the California Science Center.
"Down the road, we’re hoping to bring some of the Endeavour astronauts to be part of the program," said Adams, "but that’s still in the works."
He emphasizes that "This isn’t advertising. It’s history." And the Tundra wants to be part of it.