Toyota’s Highlander Will Get the Muppet Test at the Super Bowl

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2014 Toyota Highlander

Even the world’s largest automaker by volume could use a hand now and then when it comes to selling cars. When the Super Bowl rolls around in less than two weeks, Toyota (NYSE:TM) will be calling on none other than Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) Muppets to help bring some attention to its redesigned Highlander SUV.

The spot is expected to be around 60 seconds — which translates into about $8 million for Super Bowl broadcaster Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) — and is named “Joyride”; it features Terry Crews, an actor and former National Football League player. Automotive News reports that the “Joyride” spot will be followed by two more Muppets-themed commercials for the Highlander’s initial ad campaign, which are slated to run through the summer, according to a Toyota spokeswoman.

Why the Muppets? Turns out they have a new movie, Muppets Most Wanted, dropping in late March, so the Toyota-Muppet ad combo is actually a double-edged sword that should be beneficial for both entities.

“We all grew up with Kermit and the Muppets, and that makes Toyota’s collaboration with Disney very special for us,” Jack Hollis, vice president of Toyota Division marketing in the U.S., said in a statement. “The two brands focus on delighting guests, and this allows us to take them along on a fun ride.”

Toyota’s new Highlander started deliveries this month. It’s a fairly radical departure from the outgoing model, with new sheet metal all around and numerous interior improvements.

This year’s Super Bowl, which is expected to draw about 100 million viewers, has attracted numerous automakers to its advertising roster. Toyota sits among Chevrolet, Hyundai, Kia, Audi, Ford, Volkswagen, and Jaguar, all of which are competing for eyeballs.

For Toyota, the idea that its Highlander can withstand the Muppets (see the ad teaser above), and the ad is meant to translate into how capable the vehicle will be, presumably for those with kids.

“Our game-day spot shows how Toyota Highlander puts the ‘fun’ in function,” Hollis said. “Toyota vehicles are built to last and can even endure the most boisterous Muppets, a former NFL player as well as a center console full of chickens.”

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