Muppets highlight new 2014 Toyota Highlander during Super Bowl spot

Terry Crews and the Muppets in a scene from their Super Bowl ad for the all-new Toyota Highlander

Terry Crews and the Muppets in a scene from their Super Bowl ad for the all-new 2014 Toyota Highlander. (All photos courtesy of Toyota)

Spot also boosts “Muppets Most Wanted” movie that screens March 21, 2014

 BY GERRY MILES

Using the company’s tag line “Let’s Go Places” Toyota has joined with the Muppets for a new 60-second Super Bowl spot called “Joyride” that hypes the 2014 Toyota Highlander as well as the upcoming Muppet movie release in March.

Although the car is supposed to be the star of the show, Disney’s Muppets confound actor Terry Crews, who stars in the TV show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” 

With their over-the-top personalities, the Muppets teach Crews’ character a thing or two about “unborifying” his lifestyle as they “borrow” his sweet ride, the Toyota Highlander. The spot features humorous hijinks, dancing and surprises—and no Muppet caper would be complete without an original song. Viewers will see that with seating for up to eight human passengers or more than 12 Muppets, the all-new Toyota Highlander has plenty of room for everything—everything except boring.

Kermit the Frog tells viewers he's always up for a fun ride in the Toyota "Joyride" commercial for the upcoming Super Bowl.

Kermit the Frog tells viewers he’s always up for a wild ride in the Toyota “Joyride” commercial for the upcoming Super Bowl.

“We’re always game for a wild ride,” said Kermit the Frog, who makes a special appearance in the campaign, “as long as Animal’s not driving. He doesn’t quite get the whole concept of brakes.”

Crews, who played six years in the NFL as a defensive end/linebacker, is known for his roles and appearances on television shows such as “Arrested Development” and “The Newsroom,” and films “The Expendables” franchise, “Bridesmaids” and “The Longest Yard.”

According to wikipedia, Crews was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 11th round of the 1991 NFL Draft. During his career he played for the Rams, San Diego Chargers, the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Former NFL player Terry Crews joins with Kermit the Frog among other Muppets in the upcoming Toyota Highlander Super Bowl spot.

Former NFL player Terry Crews joins with Kermit the Frog among other Muppets in the upcoming Toyota Highlander Super Bowl spot.

In addition to the commercial, the Muppets gang will provide real-time updates as they travel to the big game in their Toyota Highlander on February 2. Fans and customers are invited to chat live with the Muppets on game day by tweeting @Toyota or using #NoRoomForBoring.

The broadcast spot and social media activities were developed in partnership with Saatchi & Saatchi LA, Conill and 360i. “Joyride” will air during the second quarter of the game. For a preview of the commercial, click here:

After the Super Bowl, Toyota and Disney extended its collaboration featuring the Highlander in the March movie, starring Muppets stars, “Muppets Most Wanted”. The film stars the Highlander, Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell and Tina Fey, in a flick that takes the entire Muppets gang on a global tour where they find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper.

Sounds very “unboring” to be sure.

 

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Toyota adds 200 jobs to meet Highlander demand

2014 Toyota Highlander

2014 Toyota Highlander

BY GERRY MILES

If you’re Toyota, it’s a nice problem to have…not enough workers to build your popular product to meet sales demands.

As a result, Toyota has announced it make a $30M investment in the Princeon, Ind. plant that produces its Highlander, resulting in 200 more jobs, to 4,700 total, in late 2014. The added manpower will increase production volume by 15,000 units.

The announcement is Toyota’s 10th production increase announcement in the past 20 months, with a cumulate investment of approximately $2 billion, and more than 4,000 new jobs.

“This capacity increaseis to meet growing demand for the Highlander and is a part of our strategy to build vehicles where we sell them,” said TMMI President Norm Bafunno. “We appreciate our loyal customers who value the quality products our dedicated team members build in Princeton, and we’re excited to build even more Highlanders.”

Toyota’s Indiana plant builds a gas version of the popular Highlander and will begin producing the hybrid version before year-end.  The new production volume added will be the gas model version.  Soon, Highlanders born in Indiana will find new homes with drivers in Russia and Australia as TMMI is set to begin exporting to those countries later this year.

TMMI currently employs 4,500 team members and builds the Highlander, Sequoia full-size SUV and Sienna minivan.  Current production capacity is 300,000 vehicles and will increase to 350,000 later this year as announced in February 2012.  Today’s news raises TMMI’s annual capacity to 365,000 vehicles by late 2014.

Will SpongeBob SquarePants Highlander promote happy driving?

SpongeBob Highlander Interior. Squinting is advised.

SpongeBob Highlander Interior. Squinting is advised.

The SpongeBob 2014 Toyota Highlander will feature a custom SpongeBob-themed exterior and an interior design that captures all of the beloved character’s high-octane energy, thereby turning the inside almost tennis ball yellow.

The SpongeBob SUV will get shown off July 13 during SpongeBob Day at the Padres vs. Giants game in San Diego, Calif. The car will then hit the road for a “Happy Driving!” promotional tour to 7 locations across the U.S.
“We are thrilled to partner with Toyota to produce this truly unique SpongeBob SquarePants-themed Highlander,” said Pam Kaufman, Chief Marketing Officer, Nickelodeon Group. “Through the ‘Happy Driving!’ program, SpongeBob fans across the nation will have a chance to interact with SpongeBob in a whole new, four-wheeled way.”

“We are pumped and honored to partner with Nickelodeon, and especially SpongeBob, to help launch the all-new 2014 Highlander. Like the Highlander, SpongeBob is family friendly and just plain fun – what more could you want in a family vehicle and cartoon?” said Jack Hollis, VP of marketing, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

As part of the “Happy Driving!” campaign, the SpongeBob Toyota Highlander will visit seven locations:

  1.  Artscape Festival, Baltimore, Md.(July 19-21)
  2.  Nickelodeon Suites Resort, Orlando, Fla. (Aug. 2-4]
  3. Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America, Minneapolis, Minn. (Aug. 9-11)
  4. Gourmet on Gore Festival (Aug. 30-Sept. 2)
  5. SpongeBob Shellabration, Hollywood, Calif. (Sept. 7-8)
  6. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Chicagoland Speedway, Chicago, Ill. (Sept. 15)
  7. Eat Real Festival, Oakland, Calif. (Sept. 27-29)
  8. LA Auto Show, Los Angeles Calif. (Nov. 30-Dec. 9)

The SpongeBob Toyota Highlander summer-long promotion will also be supported online with a dedicated website and promoted through digital display advertising and social media.  Fans can log onto www.nick.com/highlander to create their own design for the SpongeBob Toyota Highlander; download kits for family road trips that include SpongeBob branded printable games and coloring pages; watch special behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the SpongeBob Highlander; play SpongeBob online games; and enter the “SpongeBob Highlander” sweepstakes for a chance to win a Toyota Highlander.

Fans can go to the Nickelodeon, SpongeBob and Patrick Facebook pages to see photos of the SpongeBob Highlander’s road trip and the intricate design details of the vehicle.

To learn more about the all-new Highlander, visit Toyota.com/Highlander. But bring your sunglasses if you see the SpongeBob mobile, you may be blinded and/or think you’re jaundiced.