DETROIT – Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. is launching its biggest marketing campaign ever Feb. 4, blitzing U.S. consumers with advertising for its new ’07 Tundra fullsize pickup in an effort to win over U.S. Big Three loyalists.

“We have a chip on our shoulder, and we’re going to go after this business,” Jim Farley, vice president-marketing, tells media at a Tundra launch event here.

Toyota wants to sell 200,000 Tundras in the U.S. this year, and about 220,000 next year. The auto maker has at least 300,000 units of capacity at its two Tundra plants in San Antonio (200,000) and Princeton, IN, (100,000).

This Sunday, the day before the vehicle is expected to hit U.S. dealers, the auto maker will debut two new Tundra ads during the National Football League’s Super Bowl telecast on CBS.

Featured in the TV commercials is what Toyota calls the “world’s largest seesaw.” The structure, erected in mid-January, is five stories high, Toyota says.

But Super Bowl ad theatrics aside, Kim McCullough, corporate manager-marketing communications, says marketing directed at Hispanic buyers is perhaps the most “critical (element) to the success of this launch.”

She points out that in some counties in California, Hispanic owners account for 70%-80% of vehicle registrations.

As a result, Toyota has created a dedicated Spanish-language brochure and website for the Tundra – the first time it has done so for a vehicle.

Toyota also will be teaming with a Hispanic construction association, as well as sponsoring Copa Americana, the U.S.’s largest indoor soccer event, and a 40-city music tour to get the word out to Hispanics about the truck.

Spanish-language TV ads for the new ’07 Tundra debut Feb. 7, McCullough says. Farley expects Hispanics to account for 15%-25% of the 200,000 anticipated Tundra sales this year.

For the general market, McCullough says Toyota is putting half of its money toward five pillars: hunting and fishing; country music; NASCAR; the construction industry; and sports.

“Now it will be how many fishing poles can you fit in your vehicle, not how many golf clubs,” McCullough says in reference to the expected changing demographics of Toyota owners.

Toyota intends to take the Tundra to various events as part of a 350-city “Prove It!” tour, which aims to expose potential buyers to the vehicle outside of a Toyota dealership, where Farley says few U.S. Big Three fullsize pickup owners are likely to go.

These grassroots events, coupled with dealer efforts, will be key to the success of the ’07 Tundra, he says, noting Toyota dealers are spending as much as TMSUSA or more on the Tundra launch. Many dealers he says are predicting a “multiplier effect,” with Tundra advertising expected to lure in shoppers who may end up buying a different Toyota vehicle.

For the launch of the Tundra, Toyota has trained 25,000 people in more than 65 cities, Brian Smith, corporate manager-truck operations, says.

He points out that while Toyota has only 15,000 salespeople in the U.S., dealers wanted every member of their staffs, even receptionists, to be well versed on the truck.

Smith says Toyota was surprised by negative media reaction to last week’s announcement of Tundra pricing. Although the Tundra base price is higher than that of the ’07 Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado, the Tundra 2-wheel-drive Double Cab trim with 5.7L V-8 engine is less than a comparable Silverado, at $28,755 vs. $29,490, he says.

Silverado also lacks some of the standard features of the Tundra, including the towing package, Smith points out. When optioned out to match those features, Silverado is $2,300 more, he says.

To maintain competitiveness with U.S. Big Three pricing, Toyota also is offering low financing through Toyota Financial Services.

Loan rates of 3.9% for 36 months and 5.9% for 60 months are expected, Smith says.

Toyota won’t divulge what it’s spending on the ’07 Tundra marketing campaign. Reports have suggested a figure of $100 million, but a source tells Ward’s the actual amount is double that.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com