In Crazy We Believe – Toyota & Team New Zealand

Through 2020 and 2021, running up to the 36th America’s Cup, Toyota leveraged its long-running partnership with the Kiwi sailing squad to reach its two target audiences in NZ.

Territory: New Zealand

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi

Other organisations: Wright Comms, Starcom, Digitas, Assembly Ltd, Franklin Road


Toyota’s partnership with Emirates Team New Zealand stretches back 29 years, and in the run up to the 36th America’s Cup – hosted in New Zealand – the brand sought an activation to keep the tie-up fresh and tell a story about innovation, design and performance.

Its main objective was to ‘drive brand love’ among New Zealanders, with an emphasis on two key target demographic segments: the brand’s traditional ‘40+ heartland’ consumers and new ‘young, tech-savvy, urban adults’.

Secondarily, the brand had an internal goal to ‘reenergise the whole Toyota NZ organisation from top to bottom’.

Also included in the original activation targets, first developed in 2019, was a specific sales objective of selling 60 units of the ETNZ Limited Edition Prado vehicle.

Of course, the marketing team had to react to Covid-19 in early 2020, which disrupted the country’s priorities, the race schedule, the activation programme and its media plan (including the cancellation of a proposed trophy dealership tour).


The resulting multi-phase activation ran from March 2020, when the team launched its first foiling monohull, the ‘Te Aihe’, and continued through the ‘Prada Cup’ Challenger Selection Series (Jan-Feb 2021) to the 36th America’s Cup itself in March 2021. It spanned TV, digital video, cinema, social, in-dealerships, OOH and at-event near Auckland.

Creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi’s idea was to create a positive celebration of all the crazy ideas –  from re-imagining a catamaran as a foiling yacht to putting cyclists on a boat – that have brought Team NZ so much success throughout America’s Cup history.

“New Zealanders are often referred to around the world as ‘those crazy Kiwis.’ It’s a sentiment that definitely applies to our America’s Cup teams throughout the years, with a proud history of innovation, daring experimentation, colossal highs and devastating lows,” explained Saatchi & Saatchi NZ executive creative director Corey Chalmers. “It’s all part of how we play, hence the platform idea ‘In Crazy We Believe’.”

The first wave of work in March 2020 was led by eight content pieces, running across multiple media channels, that explored the various iterations of the vessels used in America’s Cup campaigns since 1987, all linked through the ‘crazy’ thread and narrated by Emirates Team New Zealand chief executive Grant Dalton.

In February 2021, the final activation phase began centred around a remix of the Gnarls Barkley song ‘Crazy’ by Ladi6 and included a hero video that blended ETNZ sailing footage, animation, graphics and typography that explain Toyota’s reason for backing ‘a bunch of sailors’ for 29 years.

The video was amplified via 60-, 30- and 15-second edits that played on TV and social platforms, and backed by radio, at-event playlists, real-time and low latency race-related social content and a dynamic, OOH campaign run in partnership with JCDecaux across large format billboards with headlines written to respond to Emirates Team New Zealand’s performance as the America’s Cup unfolded.


The combination of the ETNZ boat, crew, support team, suppliers and partners proved too good for their competitors and the team beat Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge to win the 36th America’s Cup.

According to Toyota and Saatchi & Saatchi, the car company reached 96 per cent of all Kiwis across all activation channels and ended with the highest level of brand association with the regatta among all sponsors at 41 per cent (double fellow sponsor Spark despite equal share of voice through the event).

All 60 units of the limited-edition Prado sold out in one month, generating just over NZ$5m.