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Signed. Sealed. Delivered.

She literally had five seconds to say "with Toyota Signature Class every car is cared for" before they hit the skip button... and she did – job done! Ariana Metekingi is one of the many Toyota New Zealand staff based at Thames who feature in the latest Signature Class television and online advertisements.

Ariana features on the 15-second YouTube advertisement reinforcing that much care is taken in preparing vehicles for customers at the Signature Class refurbishment centre in Thames.

Toyota New Zealand steers attention to its Thames plant in an all-new TV commercial capturing the commitment and character behind its used vehicle refurbishment operations.

Featuring a number of familiar faces since the previous instalment dating back 10 years, the story continues with the Thames plant workers charming centre stage once more, taking Kiwi viewers on a tour of the numerous checks and processes each car must go through before it’s worthy of carrying the Signature Class badge.

Toyota New Zealand’s General Manager of Marketing, Andrew Davis, says he is rapt with the work that has been developed in a collaboration with Saatchi & Saatchi and Kevin Denholm.

“This campaign was centred on how important it is to provide high-quality and reliable used vehicles for New Zealand motorists.

“The unique difference for Toyota Signature Class is that every car is meticulously cared for by people who have a strong spirit, focus on constant improvement and take a huge amount of pride in their work. They are fantastic products and it’s easy to see how it all comes together when you are at the Thames facility - the big challenge for Kevin and the Saatchi team was to capture this in their creative!

“Like all of our marketing, it was also important to recognise that we are a local brand that is proud of the unique work that Kiwis do and I think this campaign has been able to show this whilst capturing the honesty and humility of a group of people who really enjoy what they do,” says Andrew.

The new series of ads supports the many benefits already known about the Signature Class brand and re-emphasises the care taken to get the cars ready for customers.

Ariana has worked at the Thames Vehicle Operations Centre now for two years, having started in the colour area sanding cars and preparing them for any paintwork; now she is in the colour masking area, also preparing for any paintwork needed. With no acting experience, she was one of the many stars of the ads that have aired on television recently.

“I had to learn the lines literally 10 seconds before the filming started,” she says, also claiming she doesn’t like speeches or public speaking; however, she also admits it was fun.

Ariana says she didn’t know that she even featured in the advertisement until it was screened. “The film crew filmed the beginning and the end... it seemed at the same time, not in the same order, so we never really knew who would be in the final ads.”

Making ads is something that is in the DNA of Kevin Denholm, the ad maker, who worked in collaboration with Saatchi & Saatchi.

Kevin’s ‘real people’ approach spans top-end commercials to inspirational humanitarian documentaries. This approach is evident in some of his most memorable projects, which include Toyota’s iconic Everyday People series and the previous Signature Class advertisements, among many other iconic Kiwi ads viewed over the years.

“Working with real people (rather than actors) can often make it harder to get what you want with regard to specific dialogue or actions delivered on cue – but the payoffs are immense. Along with those unscripted moments of gold that often crop up, there is also an unfailing and undiluted honesty that only comes from people being who they really are on camera.

“I love working with ‘non-professional’ talent – getting to find out what makes them tick, what makes them laugh, what they’ve got tucked away inside, and waiting for the chance to be let out. Genuine people being encouraged to go for it will always trump a bunch of actors saying lines. This is the approach that has paid off so well in the past work I have done for both Toyota Signature Class and Toyota Everyday People.

“It was essential that we identified the standout characters who would be able to give us the sort of performances we were looking for. I wasn’t looking for acting ability or ‘George Clooney’ good looks here – we wanted people with a real spark, a cheekiness, a slightly larger-than- life quality. I also loved the fact that we had some really great fresh faces to choose from. We also managed to have a number of repeat cameos from some of the previous stars like Alan, Tilly, Mark and Natalie.

“I visited the Thames plant a number of times before the actual shoot, getting to know the people who I was going to put in front of the camera, and workshopping the scripts.

I find that creating a comfortable shooting environment always helps to encourage people to open up. It’s not a question of great acting or perfectly timed lines; it's about these people delivering our message personally.”

Stylistically, our finished pieces had to be strong. They needed to look modern, really fresh and visually very different from what had been done before – all whilst holding on to the charm and beauty of our people we know so well. So we needed to push this into quite a fresh space.

To achieve this, the shoot was framed around a series of very bold graphic shots as a car travels through our Thames plant.

“These pieces are not only testament to the care and attention that Toyota people give their work; but also a reflection of their good-natured spirit and ability to have a bit of a laugh at themselves. Working with the team in Thames has always been one of the very best experiences of my career, and this time was certainly no exception – I loved being back there!”

 

SIGNATURE CLASS – AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE TOYOTA BUSINESS

Toyota’s Signature Class vehicles have made a sizeable impact on the New Zealand automotive landscape, with more than 49,000 on the road since its introduction in 1997.

An average of 3,100 Signature Class cars and SUVs have hit the road every year after being refurbished at Toyota’s Thames facility, which is both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 accredited.

Signature Class vehicles sold through Toyota’s dealer network are a mixture of New Zealand new and imported vehicles. Since the programme started, 64 per cent have been New Zealand new vehicles while the other 36 per cent have been are imported used vehicles from Japan.

All vehicles go through the Thames refurbishment process, where a full service check is undertaken prior to a comprehensive body and paint refurbishment, restoring them to a near-as-new condition.

Every imported vehicle also has its odometer certified, a full safety inspection carried out by the AA and a New Zealand compatible sound system installed and relevant parts are replaced to original equipment specifications. All Signature Class vehicles are sold with a three-year Toyota warranty, three years of AA roadside assistance and three years of Warrant of Fitness checks. All hybrid and PHEV vehicles also receive these benefits, but these are extended to a five-year term for additional peace of mind.