2020 Olympics: Chevy Ad Stars Cat While Toyota Pulls Out

Only second to the Super Bowl, the 2020 Olympics is prime time television. Automakers, and all sorts of businesses, pay top dollar to get a slot during the games. But this year, while Chevy’s been knocking it out of the park, Toyota is pulling the reigns a bit. So let’s see why Chevy doubled down on their 2021 Silverado ad as Toyota stepped back, even though the games are being held in Japan.

Chevy Silverado ad featuring Walter the Cat is a smash hit

Most truck commercials follow a simple format: a gruff blue-collar worker and his dog hit the open road while some deep gravelly voice narrates their journey. Ask anyone to imitate a truck commercial and their pitch will drop as low as it can go, and they’ll prattle on about toughness and strength. But the most popular automotive ad of the 2020 Olympics flips that cliche on its head. The owner of this 2021 Chevy Silverado doesn’t have a canine companion, he’s accompanied by a cat.

Gary Pascoe told Muse, “There are certain ingredients in a lot of truck commercials: a man, a truck, and a dog. We wanted to disrupt that formula.” So they brought in Walter the cat, who loves chasing cats into trees, playing fetch, and even swimming. Most normal cats would be insulted if you threw a ball at them and disgusted by water, but Walter is certainly different.

As is the commercial, which highlighted the 2021 Silverado’s Multi-Flex Tailgate. It can become a step, expand, or fold into a workspace. Though this nifty little feature was purposely overshadowed by Walter, a feline spectacle, who single-handedly stole America’s heart. I mean, he’s a really cute cat.

But there are two sides to every coin. And while Chevy basks in the popularity of this ad, Toyota is stepping away from the 2020 Olympics, an event that sparks slight controversy in Japan.

Why did Toyota pull the ads from the Olympics?

A woman wearing mask walks her pet dog past the 2020 Olympic rings
Woman With Dog In Front Of Olympic Rings | James Matsumoto/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The short answer? Covid-19. While life seems to be getting back to normal, there’s still the Delta variant to worry about. And an event where athletes from across the globe all meet in one place doesn’t sit right with the Japanese population. To them, the 2020 Olympics seems like an unnecessary superspreader. But more than that, postponing the games for over a year after setting everything up has cost the Japanese taxpayer a lot of extra money.

So Toyota did what they thought was right, taking the ads off of Japanese airwaves in order to suppress controversy. In a nation that’s worked hard to keep their Covid cases low, the event could undo the past year’s worth of precautions that have been taken.

This is the same reason Toyota and other sponsors have been downplaying the Olympics, as the viewership for the Olympic games is at an all-time low. They’re not as popular as they used to be, and for many, hosting them now as Covid rages on feels too soon. But Toyota continues to show ads here in the states, one of which features a strange, egg-shaped car from the future.

What about that one Toyota Ad with the weird egg car?

It’s called the Toyota LQ Concept, and while the television ads only just premiered, the car was revealed back in 2019 at the Tokyo Motor Show. And while it’s far from production, the claims Toyota is making about this little pod are incredibly impressive.

Right off the bat, the LQ Concept will feature Level 4 Autonomous Driving capabilities. That would make this a proper self-driving car, one that could navigate streets (in a pre-mapped area) without any driver input or attentiveness. On top of that, the car will share a “bond” with the driver, thanks to its “onboard artificial intelligence agent.” That’s right, we’re entering the A.I. uprising.

And this isn’t even the first example of artificial intelligence in a Toyota. The 2021 Sienna replaced all hard copy owner’s manuals with the Toyota Driver’s Companion, which uses A.I. to sound more lifelike. But whatever tech they’re implementing, this LQ Concept is far from becoming a production car.

It’s a tale of two automakers catering to their audience. One subverted standards with a dog-like cat, and the other is respecting the tribulations of this massive event. But both have made a statement in these 2020 Olympics.

RELATED: Gran Turismo Is About to Become an Olympic Sport