African American News

Burrell Communications and Kenya Barris to Produce Toyota Grand Highlander TV Commercials

CHICAGO, /PRNewswire/ — Burrell Communications Group, one of the nation’s largest multicultural marketing communications agencies, has announced yet another signature and groundbreaking national ad campaign supporting the launch of the first ever Toyota Grand Highlander.

Themed “Life’s Grander,” the campaign was conceived targeting families who realize that life isn’t always picture-perfect, but when at the wheel of a grander Toyota vehicle featuring more room, enhanced style and hybrid power, they can easily turn raucous family chaos and tension into fun and unforgettable memories.

The Burrell strategy team focused on many African American families’ traditional desire to be fully engaged at parenting as a means of countering negative stereotypes. That keen strategic insight was then leveraged to grant Black families permission to be their authentic selves in, and throughout the new campaign.

The agency created two broadcast TV spots for Life’s Grander: “Back There” and “HBCU Tour,” along with a series of short digital commercials. “Back There” humorously visits the all too familiar ah-hah! moment when a mom interrupts the backseat bedlam and tells her kids, “Don’t make me come back there!” In a similar spirit, “HBCU Tour” introduces two proud parents engaged in a verbal tug-of-war to influence which Historically Black College or University (HBCU) their son will choose after campus visits to their rival alma maters.

The Life’s Grander work features African American families, well-timed dialogue and heartwarming tinges of comedy. Burrell sought out award-winning writer, producer and director Kenya Barris, the king of the Black sitcom, to authentically bring the scripts to life. The agency collaborated with Barris throughout each stage of production, tapping his renowned expertise to assemble a stellar ensemble cast of actors who delivered on-screen. Barris’ input on performances, wardrobe and story nuances helped elevate the Burrell team’s work to deliver to Toyota a great and on-target campaign.

“At Toyota, our goal is to create authentic imagery and depictions of our customers engaging with our brand in ways that reflect their values and lived experiences. We believe this new Grand Highlander ad campaign delivers on that promise,” said Mike Tripp, VP of Marketing and Communications, Toyota Motor North America. “We are humbled to contribute to the uplift of African American families with the heartwarming Life’s Grander series, and share Burrell’s enthusiasm about the outcomes of this collaboration with Kenya Barris.”

This project marks Barris’ first venture into TV commercial advertising. But, after this strong showing, it’s bound to not be his last. He thoroughly relished the collaboration with the agency. “As a first time commercial director, Burrell made the entire process seamless from beginning to end,” Barris states. “Along with decades of experience, working with the agency team to create a commercial centered around a Black family also meant working with a team that understands all of the big and little details that needed to be portrayed, and was aligned in making sure we did our best to get them right,” he continued.

“As a creative, I’ve always been a big proponent of embracing brand integrations and marketing as a storytelling tool. I loved being able to see that process from the other side of the creative table, while also expanding my skill set as a director for a different format, and would welcome the opportunity to do it again.”

“Burrell is committed to making work that Matters, and is as Aspirational as it is Disruptive. We achieve that by leading with cultural relevance,” said Khari Streeter, Burrell’s chief creative officer. “When the opportunity arose to work with Kenya to help us bring our Grand Highlander concepts to life, we jumped at it. He was immediately generous and accessible,” Streeter relates further. “He didn’t hesitate to unpack his culture-led perspective, nor his personal experience to elevate the work. He brought in a spectrum of top-tier talent he had worked with, used a nuanced sense of humor and treated the spots as if they were a collection of episodes, which added depth and cohesion to the campaign. We were happy to be able to break the seal on his commercial directing debut, and look forward to working with him in the future.”

Burrell Communications Group was established by renowned ad man Tom Burrell in 1971, who led the company for 33 years. The agency today boasts a roster of premiere, blue-chip clients that lead in their respective categories, including McDonald’s, Toyota, Comcast, Fidelity, Deloitte, Coca-Cola, FIFCO, Procter & Gamble and the American Red Cross.

SOURCE Burrell Communications

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