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Indianapolis Colts owner Irsay appears in Toyota TV commercial

April 10, 2010

In a television commercial that begins airing early this month, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay takes on the unusual role of pitchman.

Irsay agreed to appear in television commercials for Toyota Motor Corp., which took over as the official automobile of the Colts from Chevrolet last year.

The TV ads are being launched as the Japanese car maker tries to recover from the public relations hit it took following a massive recall earlier this year. Federal safety regulators announced April 6 that they intend to fine Toyota $16.4 million—the largest ever penalty against an automaker—for failing to disclose problems with sticky accelerator pedals quickly.

The new TV commercials were produced by Saatchi & Saatchi, a worldwide ad agency that handles the Toyota account.

IMS Production in Speedway was used to shoot the ads. Much of the shoot took place at the Colts’ 56th Street complex.

Irsay appears in a Toyota vehicle along with Colts cheerleaders and the team’s mascot and says, “At the Indianapolis Colts, there’s only one car brand we trust to haul all our MVPs.”

It’s one of few direct pitches Irsay has ever made, though he’s generally willing to do what sponsors ask of him.

“Jim has made himself available to Colts sponsors at their will,” said Colts Senior Vice President Peter Ward. “We certainly want to do what we can to help our corporate partners.

According to Ward, officials for Toyota, which signed a three-year deal with the Colts at the beginning of last season, requested either a player or a high-ranking Colts executive for the ad, and the Colts offered Irsay.

The 30-second spot, which will air across Indiana through at least May, might also prove to be a good branding tool for the Colts.

In the commercial, the Colts mascot is shown with a large horseshoe prominently displayed on his chest, a horseshoe appears on one of the goal posts in the team’s training center, and the team’s playoff and Super Bowl banners are shown in the background of the ad.

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