Toyota’s largest beaded love letter to Corolla fans

  • 1.1 Million Corolla units produced and sold in South Africa
  • 160 Billion kilometres driven on local roads
  • 50 years on, Corolla remains true to the model’s original DNA
  • It’s been part of South Africans’ lives for more than 40 years
  • Close to 50 million have been sold globally

Toyota South Africa and its long-standing agency, FCB Jo’burg, have created a ‘beaded billboard’ with the help of Woza Moya to thank Toyota Corolla owners for the role they play in making the Corolla nameplate a success. In the Zulu culture, love letters are traditionally crafted out of beadwork by Zulu women, each is a work of art and totally unique. This truly South African declaration of love seemed like a fitting way to celebrate South Africa’s most loved car.

Arguably one of the world’s largest beaded creations, the Corolla billboard was unveiled on Monday 17 September. Located on the M1 De Villiers Graaff Highway – after the Crown Interchange and before the Booysens Interchange – the beaded billboard will be on display until the 16th of October 2018. There couldn’t have been a more opportune time to thank Corolla drivers as the Corolla nameplate has become something of an icon in South Africa.

Coinciding with the national heritage month, the Corolla is in its own right a heritage model in the Toyota fleet. That the Corolla billboard is made from beads is also fitting in celebrating its heritage, as beads are themselves considered a continental heritage. As a cultural heritage, beads have served as jewellery, pieces of art, haute couture as well royal regalia in Africa as far back as 12 000 ago.

The beaded billboard measures 12m X 9m, weighs over 1 tonne, and comprises over 138 000 individual beads sewn together by 350 women crafters from Woza Moya. Woza Moya is the economic empowerment project of the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust in KwaZulu-Natal, the province where Toyota SA has manufactured the Corolla since 1972. In addition to the billboard the crafters have also beaded 7500 individual Corolla beaded love letters for new Corolla buyers and Toyota Staff.

Glenn Crompton, Vice-President of Marketing at Toyota SA, confirmed: “It was vitally important for us that this campaign, an act of thanks to Corolla drivers and their Corollas, also said ‘thank you’ to the community in which our Corollas are put together.

“Since 1975, the Corolla plant has been in KwaZulu-Natal, so the fit between Woza Moya and the campaign was ideal. We’re thrilled to have been able to create work for the crafters who belong to the initiative.”

Now well into its eleventh generation, and more than 50 years since being introduced onto the market, there is no doubt that Toyota has had enough time to perfect the Corolla recipe. Not only does it remain the world’s best-selling nameplate in automotive history, it’s still one of the most popular vehicles in the Toyota line-up.

According to Janine Kleinschmidt – Creative Director responsible for the design – the decision to celebrate Corolla and its drivers with a beaded billboard was sparked by the thinking behind the Special Edition Corolla, which rolled out earlier this year.

She explained: “Toyota SA wanted to celebrate the fact that Corolla has been the most loved car in South Africa since ‘forever’ while entrenching its positioning ‘Love Driving’. The intricate workmanship in the Special Edition Corolla launched earlier this year was evocative of the uniquely South African visual language of Zulu love letters, so we used this to the art direction and design of the campaign.

“We absolutely love what we’ve achieved, and we’re thrilled that Toyota SA insisted the campaign include a large corporate social responsibility element. It has been an honour to work with the crafters from Woza Moya.”