COMMERCIAL WRAP: Idris Elba goes Black Bond in new Toyota Avalon spot.

To launch their new Avalon, Toyota bets on Black with Idris Elba.

Idris Elba’s new Avalon commercial is a crisp, clean, highly stylized piece of celluloid confection.

Broken down into three different episodes – “The Pickup”, “The Checkpoint” & “The Getaway” – this Toyota trilogy finds Elba in his element: the cool, mysterious man of few words and lots of action. Produced by Burrell Communications, it’s hard to believe it, but this is Elba’s first commercial.

For a rookie, he acquits himself quite well. He translates his unflappable icy sex appeal swathed in menace to the world of advertising with expected ease. Beer to biscuits this won’t be his last.

“The Pick Up” sets everything up quite nicely.

The 2013 Toyota Avalon “Pick Up” with Idris Elba for “Only The Name Remains”

“The Checkpoint” is the mid-point, almost-gets-caught bridge to the third installment.

The 2013 Toyota Avalon “Checkpoint” with Idris Elba for “Only The Name Remains”

“The Getaway” is the supposed climax, but …

The 2013 Toyota Avalon “Getaway” with Idris Elba for “Only The Name Remains”

… it’s just a tease, serving as a cliffhanger for the finale which you can only see by going to the website Once you get to the Avalon page, instead of giving you the payoff in a nice and neat package, it’s really a gateway to a virtual experience where you get to be Idris, the driver, and navigate the twists, turns and obstacles of the terrain and the somewhat transparent plot-line.

The climax is kinda paltry – did the budget not include any shots of Elba, maybe actually driving, rolling up the window or, I don’t know,  shooting one of those patented smoldering Idris as Luther/Stringer Bell stares before driving away?


Maybe I’m asking too much from a car commercial.

Overall, it’s a cool spot, coming off more like a mini-movie than your normal commercial. It positions the redesigned Avalon as an affordable aspirational luxury vehicle. Hey, if it’s good enough for the devil may-care, elusive Mr. Elba, then it’s got to be good enough for the everyday driver on a budget trying to be nearly as cool, right?

It’s a job pretty well done, but the obvious question hangs in the air kind of like a Jurassic Park-sized insect: who is the real star of the spot? Idris or the Avalon?

You be the judge.

Bonus: here’s some behind the scenes footage for you ‘Dris fiends. Ladies, you’re welcome.

The 2013 Toyota Avalon “Behind The Scenes” with Idris Elba for “Only The Name Remains”


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