As a result of the Susan G Komen ‘Paint it Pink’ campaign there are splashes of the signature color wherever a North Westerner’s eye might wander. I have a slight astigmatism in my left eye, which may have contributed to the random glimpse I caught of a “Pink Warrior” Prius on my way past Toyota of Seattle.
Several hours earlier, my roommate and I had departed from our villa in West Seattle on a mission to find a car dealership in the area willing to let us test drive one of their exciting new models. Downtown, the idle on my Civic decided to give out and the little engine’s RPM’s skyrocketed to a dangerous level just a block down from Toyota of Seattle.
We scrapped the excitement angle and swung into the back lot of the dealership. My googley eye wandered dangerously from the sudden stress and just so happen to fall on something… Pink?
Pink Gold. Toyota of Seattle’s Pink Warrior Prius was positioned proudly in a stall near the front of the lot, set apart from the other rows of vehicles.
Out came the note pad, down went the questions, in we went to the dealership floor to find the man with the answers. Mr. Jason Perry, Used Car Manager of the dealership, greeted us.
I positioned my face next to MotorSpaceNW on one of his computer monitors and he matched my mug to the one on the screen.
(Note to self: Order business cards)
“I’m convinced,” he said, and led us out to the Pink Warrior.
We stood in front of a 2007 Toyota Prius with a custom pink graphic package set against a white paint job, a rolling show of support for the Susan G Komen Foundation; Jason’s brainchild. The Deal:
Toyota of Seattle will donate $500 to the foundation or a related cause in the name of whoever purchases the car.
When asked what inspired him to create such a bold vehicle, Jason was eager to respond:
“I wanted the person to feel good about driving it,” he said, “I wanted the dealership to feel good about donating the money, when people see it I want them to say, ‘hey, you know what? We see this on cereal boxes, we see it on Monday Night Football, we know what the pink ribbon stands for,’ I want the person who’s driving it to feel good and to know that they’re making a statement.”
It didn’t take long for the Pink Warrior to begin catching the public’s eye. Shortly after posting pictures of the car online at toyotaofseattle.com, Jason was contacted and asked if he would be willing lend the car to the recent Paint it Pink event at Qwest Field.
He agreed and the Pink Warrior was displayed for all to see. Despite the public success, Jason found the most profound effect of the car might have occurred in his own dealership:
“Probably the most powerful reaction that I got was when we first got the vehicle back on the lot. I took some pictures on my Iphone and sent them out company-wide. We have an employee, I didn’t know anything about this person, they work in a different department, this person sent me an email and said, ‘I just want to let you know what that means to me, to see that. My daughter is fighting the disease. I lost my wife to it and some other family members.’ Here’s somebody that I’m not in close contact with but I see everyday and I had no idea how close that person felt to this, and what they had gone through. That tells me that there are a lot of other people in that same situation.”
Jason explained that Toyota of Seattle would outfit any car on their lot with the Pink Warrior package. Or, if a customer doesn’t want the package, the dealership will remove it and still make the same donation.
Even though his dealership is not directly affiliated with the Susan G Komen Foundation, it was obvious Jason was excited about the prospect of seeing the Pink Warrior ensemble make its presence known in Seattle.
“I don’t want it to get to the commercial type point,” he said, “But the level of awareness for the Susan G Komen Foundation is probably at its all time high, as far as being accepted, being out in the open, people understanding it, becoming part of the mainstream, becoming part of our everyday lives.”
“I want this car to be driven around Seattle and the thousands, millions of people that come downtown to see this car, to know that it was Toyota of Seattle that put it on the road and know the customer said, ‘Hey, I’m a Pink Warrior and I’m driving this thing and I hope you know it.”