Illustration for article titled Game Changer: Toyotas 2019 Super Bowl Spot Stars Groundbreaking Female Football Player Toni Harris
Photo: Toyota

Now, here’s a Super Bowl story we can get behind this year.

She’s defied the odds. Now football phenom Antoinette “Toni” Harris is getting the respect she deserves, in tandem with the biggest game of the year. Toyota has tapped the 22-year-old trailblazer to appear in their Super Bowl LIII ad for the all-new 2019 RAV4 HV (RAV4 Hybrid), a crossover sport utility vehicle that serves as an apt metaphor for Harris’ own journey. Because one game-changer deserves another.


“The 2019 RAV4 HV is the vehicle that will shatter perceptions of hybrids, much like how Toni is shattering perceptions of a football player,” Ed Laukes, group vice president, Toyota Marketing, Toyota Motor North America, said in a press release. “We’re excited to highlight Toni’s inspirational story during the Big Game and remind viewers that assumptions should always be challenged.”

Toyota USA/YouTube

Harris, who is the first and only female football player to be offered a full scholarship as a non-specialist—and the first to play a non-specialist position, on defense—is getting the full Super Bowl treatment. Toyota’s ad is narrated by veteran sportscaster Jim Nantz and directed by legendary Super Bowl director Joe Pytka, who has directed more than 80 Super Bowl commercials.


“Toni’s story and the Toyota RAV4 HV narrative complement each other nicely and it was a true pleasure to feature them during the most-watched television event of the year,” Pytka aid of his first time working with both.

The spot is part of Toyota’s ongoing cohesive and multiculturally inclusive marketing approach, which joins its diverse group of agencies in a total market model called Total Toyota, or T2. Toni’s story was created and produced by Chicago-based black ad agency Burrell Communications, with additional support from Saatchi & Saatchi and Zenith Media.

Harris made her mark playing sophomore defensive back (free safety) at East Los Angeles College. Now, the Detroit native has four additional scholarship offers from universities hoping to help her take her game to the next level, interest that could very well peak following her appearance in Toyota’s ad near the end of the second quarter of the Super Bowl.

“I am thrilled to partner with Toyota on our like-minded quest to defy expectations, lead the charge without compromise and overcome adversity,” Harris said. “I hope this will inspire others who are experiencing a similar journey.”

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, an avid eyeshadow enthusiast and always her own muse. Nuance is her superpower.

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