Just like almost everything else during the coronavirus pandemic, ABC and Toyota had to turn on a dime to create this branded integration between the car brand and ABC’s Modern Family, which signed off on April 8 after 11 years on the air.

ABC turned to creative agency Elevation, which had only two weeks to create this fully animated :30 spot from their home offices. The spot started off in vector-style 2D animation but evolved into the mix of 3D and flat 2D shading seen above.

The Toyota Highlander, while animated, intentionally looks photo-real. It drives past several Easter Eggs drawn from the show’s long run, including the model airplane, the Prius license plate, “Just Married” decorations at Mitch and Cam’s house, the sprinkler scene during the all-white photography shoot, the jogger, the slow-down sign and the old lady on the scooter.

Requirements of social distancing created other challenges. For example, no one could physically go to the main characters’ homes, so the Elevation team had to repeatedly rely on Google Street View in order to perfectly capture them.

And Ty Burrell (Phil Dunphy) could not go into a studio to record the voiceover, so he stepped into a closet in his home with his smartphone. Once the Elevation team received that narration, they were able to sweeten it and add in some atmospherics and a nostalgic song.

The final delivery included on-air, digital and reformatted social spots as well as key art. As Phil Dunphy himself once said: “Success is1 percent inspiration, 98 percent perspiration, and 2 percent attention to detail.”


Client: ABC/The Walt Disney Company

Agency: Disney CreativeWorks

Vice President & Creative Director, Branded Content: Jeffrey Weinstock

Executive Creative Director: Chris Powers

Writer/Producer, Branded Content: Christiann Keeler, Neil Sadhu

Coordinator, Brand Solutions: Ciera Dixon

Agency: Elevation

Executive Creative Direction: Stephen Cocks

Creative Direction: David Hendrix

Executive Producer: Steph Carson

Art Direction: Dianne Frisbee

Designers: Sean Kiley, David Hendrix, Stephen Cocks

Sound Design: Josh Money

Tags: abc animation branded integration elevation hot spots modern family toyota

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