Toyota Prius, The Impossible Drive

Toyota Prius Prime launches new campaign 'The Impossible Drive,' with VFX by MPC

A technological naysayer takes backseat driving to a new level in Toyota Prius’ new ad campaign, “The Impossible Drive.” Repeating a tagline of, “That won’t get us far,” he doubtfully observes the invention of the wheel, discovery of electricity, the invention of cell phones and finally turns his attention to hybrid cars. Despite earlier reservations, our pessimistic friend is so amazed by the Toyota Prius’ potential that even he cannot predict its failure. The commercial features a great performance coupled with excellent visual storytelling…all with a comedic bent.

Saatchi & Saatchi crafted the humorous time-traveling story for Toyota. Renowned director Paul Hunter of Pretty Bird brought the commercial to life, with Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth lensing. VFX by MPC with Creative Director Rob Hodgson supervising the team of Brian Williams as the 2D lead, Michael Wynd as 3D lead and Rocco Gioffre as digital matte painter.

“Much of our work in VFX is invisible, the magic trick that you can’t spot, and that was the challenge for this huge campaign for the new Prius Prime,” explained Hodgson. “Authenticity was important in the prep for the job – wardrobe, makeup, prosthetics, props were selected to give a quick but real read of a time period, from Neanderthal to Ben Franklin; the wild west to the 1980s, to the modern day.”

He continued, “Paul and the Saatchi team agreed on some great locations - epic lighting and lensing from Jeff Cronenweth meant we were working with a base of beautiful photography. The real challenge is to create and exploit opportunities in a commercial like this to make a nice-looking shot really great – to add in small elements and composite them in a convincing way so that the viewer doesn’t really know what was shot and what wasn’t. It’s then a question of what is the efficient tool for the job – smoke from the train is a combination of CG smoke and a filmed element; the birds in the Neanderthal scene were a filmed element; Ben Franklin is next to a projected 3D barn, with a matte painting valley in the distance. The interior of the cars were a combination of practical live action, split screens and green screens with plates.”

Hodgson said that collaborating with Hunter, as well as Saatchi & Saatchi, was an amazing experience: “I think we were on the same page with Paul from the start, and the agency’s tweaks were smart and specific which made our work go smoothly and efficiently. We loved the project and the clients so much I went and bought a Prius straight after – seriously!”

Find yourself convinced after watching the video below.  



Saatchi & Saatchi


Paul Hunter

Production Company

Pretty Bird

Agency Producer

Alex Granieri

Agency Creative Directors

Brian Morgan, Chip McDonald

Agency Copywriter

Amadeus Henhapl

Agency Art Director

Max Wang

Line Producer

William Green

Executive Producer

Candice Dragonas


Jeff Cronenweth




Chan Hatcher



Executive Producer

Karen Anderson


Hillary Thomas

VFX Creative Director

Rob Hodgson

VFX On-set Supervisors

Zach Tucker, Rob Hodgson

Matte Painter

Rocco Gioffre

2D Flame Lead

Brian Williams

3D Lead

Michael Wynd


Fabrizio Ghizo, Kyle Belko

Flame Artists/Compositors

Brian Williams, Fabirzio Ghiso, Kyle Belko

CG Artists

Michael Wynd, Matthew Burns, Masahito Yoshioka, Ted Abeyta