A new Christmas-themed Toyota commercial focuses less on the company’s automobiles and more on the power of photography.
The new ad, “Present from the Past,” was created by the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi and directed by Lisa Gunning. The ad, which clocks in at 90 seconds in its longest cut, tells the story of a young woman who received a thoughtful gift from her grandmother: a vintage camera and the photos the now-elderly woman had captured many years ago.
“My darling granddaughter. When I was your age, I was given this camera. May it capture your big, beautiful life the way it did mine,” the grandmother’s voice narrates as her granddaughter opens the gift.
The young woman takes her gift on a road trip and recreates her grandmother’s old photos, capturing new versions in all the old haunts. She then puts her recreated photos alongside her grandmother’s originals in a photo album and gifts the album to her grandmother, completing a nostalgic circle of photography.
The commercial is nice enough on its own and does a beautiful job demonstrating the emotional impact that photography can have in real life. However, this is PetaPixel, so the precise camera model used in the ad matters.
PetaPixel Staff Writer Phil Mistry was quick to identify the featured camera. It is an Asahi Pentax Spotmatic (screw mount) camera with a Super-Takumar 55mm f/1.8 lens. Mistry adds, “That wooden tripod without a head would never have been used with a Spotmatic!”
The Pentax Spotmatic camera is a perfect choice for the ad, and surely no accident as it was an iconic camera that proved very popular with beginner photographers in the 1960s and 70s.
In a 2018 article, Cody Schultz wrote on PetaPixel that his photography journey started with a gifted Pentax Spotmatic. The camera was “simple to use,” leading to Schultz falling in love with film. Undoubtedly, the Spotmatic had a similar effect on people decades ago.
While it is easy to be jaded regarding commercials, and the commercial’s overall aim is to sell vehicles, the ad also sells photography’s storytelling power. Photography captures lives and connects people across generations. As long as there are cameras and images, history stays alive.
Image credits: Screenshots from Toyota’s new ad, created by Saatchi & Saatchi.