We’ve seen the joke a million times: straight man walks into bar. Straight man sees attractive woman from behind. Straight man steps behind said woman and feeds her some cheesy pickup line. Woman turns around to reveal that she’s a transsexual or a drag queen or a transvestite or an unusually curvy guy.
“Ha ha ha,” says absolutely no one, because the punch line was visible from a mile away. And it’s not much of a punch line anyway.
We’re happy to report that Toyota has taken that same, tired set-up and done something very, very different.
In a new, Japanese ad for the Toyota Auris, a camera tracks a leggy blonde. She’s wearing nothing but a bikini bottom and an open jacket, which she sheds halfway through.
She looks like a runway model as we watch her from behind. We assume she’s one of those tall, stunning Ukranian women who swim in a different gene pool than most mortals. A reverse-shot of her geometrically perfect face confirms our suspicions — or so we think.
Then she reaches the Auris, turns around, and crosses her arms, revealing a flat chest and a noticeable bulge in the bikini. This is clearly a man.
However, we’re right about one thing: the model is Ukranian — 19-year-old Stav Strashko. We don’t know if Strashko is gay, but given that Ukraine is considering a bill to outlaw Spongebob Squarepants because he’s (allegedly) a boy-kisser, let’s hope that Strashko makes his home someplace more tolerant.
[UPDATE: Although several sources have said that the model, Stav Strashko, is Ukranian, that's only the country of his birth. In this behind-the-scenes video, Strashko clearly says that he's from the very LGBT-friendly city of Tel Aviv, Israel -- something he clarifies on his Tumblog. And yep, he's gay.]
What’s interesting about the Auris ad is that it’s not funny. Strashko stares us down, daring us to reconsider our preconceptions. There’s no laugh at the end, just a lingering threat.
What’s a major automaker like Toyota doing running this kind of clip? What is the company trying to say to consumers? Has the androgyny of anime finally infiltrated Japanese advertising? Could this kind of ad ever work in the U.S.?
Have a look, and let us know your thoughts: