DALLAS -- Toyota's choice of the Olympic Games for a global marketing campaign to reposition itself as a mobility company is a no-brainer given the massive audiences and feel-good vibe of the athletic competition.
But its sponsorship of the Paralympic Games is not taking a back seat.
Many of the devices and mobility concepts the company is highlighting in the initiative address the challenges of personal mobility, including for the elderly, those recovering from an accident, or the permanently disabled.
During a daylong series of live TV interviews from Toyota's North American headquarters near Dallas, two sponsored athletes joined a discussion with Toyota General Manager Jack Hollis on the "Start Your Impossible" campaign.
Both are Olympic skiers: Ted Ligety, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in alpine skiing for the U.S. team, and Alana Nichols, a six-time medalist in the Paralympic Games in alpine skiing and wheelchair basketball for the U.S.
"The main point is that mobility is an essential part of living a whole life, and regardless of what stage you're at, it's important to find a way to be mobile," said Nichols, who was injured in a snowboarding accident as a teenager.
"It's so exciting to think about disability being obsolete," she said in an interview. "And for me personally, I love thinking about standing and walking and one day I think that's possible.
"It's an exciting time. I think we are looking at cyber robot-type humans, and I want to be one of them."
Ed Laukes, marketing chief for Toyota North America, said that Toyota brought Olympic and Paralympic athletes together to talk about the company's goals in the early stages of developing its global ad campaign.
"We said that we would like to make sure that we, Toyota, are supporting the Olympic vision for the globe, but also we want to amplify the Paralympic vision for the globe," he told Automotive News. "That aligns with the DNA of our organization, but it also aligns with our mission of providing mobility."