Authored by: Dallas Baker

On Monday, March 16th, 2020, when six counties across the Bay Area announced the first shelter-in-place orders in the U.S., Toyota dealers across Northern California got the country’s first glimpse of how business would be done during a global pandemic.

With only a few hours’ warning, nearly half the Toyota dealers in Northern California learned that their sales departments would be closed for at least three weeks and likely longer. Their Parts and Service departments had been deemed “Essential Services” and allowed to remain open during the Shelter in Place order, however.

Needing to quickly broadcast this change of operations, reassure Toyota customers that their vehicles could still be serviced, and maintain the one portion of their business that could continue during the lockdown, area Toyota dealers turned to H/L on Tuesday, March 17th, to produce a TV commercial for air “as soon as possible.”

Restricted by shelter-in-place orders ourselves, H/L went to work creating a script the same day and sourcing footage from Toyota corporate HQ, as well as our own previously produced footage. Voiceover work was done remotely, the next day, with an actor in his home studio, digitally connected with a studio in San Francisco. The session was directed by H/L via cell phone. Final sound mix and edit were done in several offsite locations, all collaborating remotely, and the commercial was digitally uploaded to local stations for air on Thursday, March 19th.

As more and more regions across the country followed the Bay Area and California in sheltering-in-place, other Toyota Dealership Associations have used this commercial as well.

Producing a commercial for broadcast in less than seventy-two hours is a tall order; doing so with an entire team working remotely is a seemingly insurmountable task. But when a client’s business is delivering a reliable, responsive, powerful product, how could they expect any less from their agency?

Dallas Baker is VP & Executive Creative Director with H/L