alexis n mashonda

African American Women: A Sweet Spot for Toyota Camry

Toyota: Seeking professional African American woman, age 25-40, annual salary: $70,000+.
That’s right—for the first time in history, Toyota has developed a marketing campaign designed to target African American women. The vehicle of choice: the Camry. The reason: They’re just not buying Camrys, but prefer Altimas, Accords and Avengers, according to a recent study.

According to this week’s Advertising Age, what has been the best-selling car in America for the past nine years somehow does not resonate with African American women, so in an effort to encourage interest, Toyota has created a $5 million print, radio and online campaign designed to drive traffic to, an interactive site that combines reality drama with an interactive game. The main character: Bianca, a fashion designer at an “urban” fashion house caught in the midst of espionage. The supporting character: The Toyota Camry.

Here’s the best part: in the same Advertising Age story, writer Claude Brodesser-Akner attempted to throw out a few possible reasons to explain why African American women are not buying the Camry. Here’s a little synopsis of his ideas after the jump:

* According to 2001 U.S. Census Bureau stats, African-American women are the least likely to marry and also the most likely to divorce. Therefore, lacking a double income, they might opt for cheaper wheels.
* According to a November 2007 study by NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, black and Hispanic borrowers were more likely to be steered into subprime loans than others, even adjusting for income, loan size and property location—indicating they don’t have money to buy a car.

Why this is in the article makes no sense to me, but I digress…

Wednesday night, Toyota partnered with ESSENCE to kick off the campaign with a fashion show and performance event in New York City. The fashion show featured looks by Alexis Pheiffer’s Ghita line and a performance by none other than Keyshia Cole. Steely D, J Baker and I stopped by to check out the festivities and see if in fact we might be inspired enough to head to our local Toyota dealership. I, for one, can’t say that it worked, but I can appreciate a company that notices the importance of African American purchase power and is willing to invest dollars into media that speaks to black female needs.

Check out a few photos from the event below, and when you have a chance, visit

Let us know what you think. Is it effective? African American Parlour maids: Do you feel a new Camry jones coming on?

Ed Note: Advertising Age missed a key point in their article.  This was not Toyota’s first campaign for AA women, but simply the first of its kind for this demographic.

Ms. Alexis Pheiffer and Mashonda making Kanye and Swizz Beats think twice…

Alexis Phifer’s Ghita fashion show line-up. The show was a mix of what we saw during her Spring ’08 show last year during Fashion Week and the new Fall ’08 line. Cute! Lots of draping and rouching, accented by neon PVC looking straps, sequins and metallics… Our homie Claire over at The Fashion Bomb managed to capture this video of the final walk:

The crowd was full of NYC flavor: fashionistas, powerbrokers and tastemakers (and then us, who were hungry and following the cocktail waiters–call us greedinistas!)

Keyshia’s DVF dress and her performance was very flattering, we were proud. Cali love!

Essence Health and Relationships associate editor Demetria L. Lucas and her buddy, writer Qimmah Saafir.

Allow us to reintroduce ourselves: Steely D in the orange, JBakes in the red.

Parlour Love,

-Mahogs, JBakes & DSteel

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  • carol

    hi Parlour folks – is the campaign effective? Well, I’m interested! I’m in the demographic. The economy isn’t on my side right now, so I can’t run out and buy the Camry, but I like how easy it looks to drive for my girl Bianca. The video stuff is really television quality, I like the cast, whoever they are. Who is playing Bianca anyway, she is doing a really nice job. I’m gonna keep watching, will get back to you when it’s all done, we can talk about if I want to buy a Camry after all that.