Toyota feeling it for 30 years

By Paul McIntyre | 12 July 2013

Hats off to Toyota’s ‘Oh, What a Feeling’ tagline which in coming weeks will surpass a mammoth benchmark of 30 years and still going in the Australian market. Really, it’s pretty much unheard of these days.

In July 1983, David Sherbon and Roger Pugh, then the new local partners of US agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sample – later acquired by Saatchi & Saatchi – and Bob Miller, Toyota’s then-marketing boss, took on Toyota’s US tagline to underpin all of Toyota’s auto marketing in Australia.

It has long gone from the US market and in fact Australia remains the only country in the world which still uses the now near-ubiquitous line for Toyota.

“It’s the first time a campaign has ever lasted 30 years in Australia,” says Pew, who has since retired but writes a bustling satirical blog around Australian and international politics, Friday Mash.

Pugh got the Toyota business with Leo Schofield’s former partner, David Sherbon, who lobbed the ‘Oh, What a Feeling’ tagline to Miller and friends with the proposal to start a new agency because Toyota’s then-agency in Melbourne, Masius, refused to use the tagline. They were subsequently sacked and Sherbon and Pugh were appointed as the new Toyota Australia team at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample.

Pugh credits Sherbon with the original idea to bring the line to Australia from the US and says he was a “brilliant guy, a terrible manager but a great entrepreneur”.

“It was the first automotive campaign which looked at cars from a consumer point of view,” Pugh says. “Until that point car advertising was all about how shiny or great it was. What ‘Oh, What a Feeling’ did was to totally change the perception of cars to one of driver satisfaction.”

Bob Miller, now adjunct professor at Macquarie University, concurs, saying the “master stroke” was in Toyota saying “you will feel good if you drive this car”.

“What we had in the American market and Australia was quality and reliability. But how boring is that? Try putting that in the headline for 30 years.”

Miller says there have been various attempts – during and after after his time – to gauge if it needed to be dropped but never has. “You could change it to ‘We’re a Rocket Ship’ but Toyota would be spending how many hundreds of millions to get that working with the next generation,” says Miller, who recalls the first ‘Oh, What a Feeling’ spot aired on the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes show for a red Toyota Landcruiser.

Get your wheels spinning on that.

This article first appeared in the 12 July 2013 edition of AdNews, in print and on iPad. Click here to subscribe for more news, features and opinion.

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