NEW YORK: Japanese carmaker Toyota has been advertising its new Camry model in the US around the theme of “Sensations”, but some viewers may have missed that there are at least four versions with each one aimed at different ethnicities.

African-American consumers, for example, are said to be big fans of ABC’s political thriller Scandal, during which an ad could be served featuring an African-American man driving his Toyota to a hip-hop soundtrack, chosen to signal confidence and athleticism.

Meanwhile, an ad featuring a Latino man enjoying his driving experience so much that he dares to decline a call from his mother in a sign of rebellion is the main theme of Toyota’s pitch to Hispanic audiences, who might view the ad on NBC Universo, the Spanish language network.

For the New York Times, the ads – each with their different storylines, actors and music – offer “a glimpse into how race and culture figure into American advertising today”.

Speaking to the newspaper, Jack Hollis, Group VP and General Manager of Toyota North America, explained: “People like to see people of all ethnicities in what they’re seeing because that’s the life they’re living in most of the US today.

“If a person of any group is looking for communication that is like them, that looks like them specifically, the good news is because of the breadth of something like a Camry campaign, they can find it.”

Toyota commissioned four agencies to work on the range of ads – Burrell, which has specialised in marketing to African-American consumers since the 1970s, interTrend, a California-based agency that specialises in marketing to Asian-Americans, as well as Conhill and Saatchi and Saatchi.

“People want to see themselves in messaging,” said Vicki Bolton, one of Burrell’s account directors who worked on the ad aimed at African-Americans.

She added that millennials may have broader social circles, but “when they come home at the end of the day, they still want to see messaging with people that are reflective of them”.

Meanwhile, interTrend created the ad aimed at Asian-American consumers. Entitled “Captivating”, it features a Chinese-American father picking his daughter up from baseball practice in a red Camry and is made to suggest the car brings out the affectionate side of Asian-American men.

“Traditionally, Asian fathers show less emotion and affection toward their kids,” explained Julia Huang, Chief Executive of interTrend. “We wanted to show that driving the Camry brought out a different side of an Asian dad and how he wanted to share the experience with his daughter.”

The New York Times observed that, even though brands have targeted different groups for years, “Toyota’s efforts show how major companies are adjusting their marketing tactics as the nation’s demographics shift”.

Sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff