Findlay Toyota pitchman John Barr remembers well his climb in the car business that hatched in April 1998.
A former soccer player and musician from England, Barr found himself in the car business by using a picture-perfect face and intriguing British accent recognized by late dealership General Manager Rich Abajian, himself a former college football player and coach.
In Abajian’s eyes, an automobile dealership needed a creative face that could be used in everything from radio and television commercials to special events with wide-ranging reach. Abajian died in 2016, and Barr has carried on without his dear friend.
Abajian had an amazing ability to recognize talent in employees of Findlay Toyota while capitalizing on a formula that has seen the dealership become one of the largest Toyota dealerships in the nation.
It’s clear that Barr’s personality and pizazz have played a big role in Findlay Toyota’s success. So where did all of this start, and why did the theme take off so dramatically?
In a true happenstance, Barr sold two vehicles to a Boulder City family that included a cute little boy who resembled a smaller, younger version of Barr complete with blond hair. He was later cast as Biddy Barr inspired by the Austin Powers character Mini-me.
“We did a lot of crazy commercials based on Austin Powers and other pop culture icons.”
One of Barr’s first commercials was a song that played to a catchy reframe: “His name is John Barr, he’s gonna sell you a car.” That later evolved into Barr’s trademark catchphrase, “I’ll do anything to sell you a car.”
“That slogan has been the recognized branding of Findlay Toyota for many years,” Barr said.
“Findlay Toyota often has a commercial during the Super Bowl. This year will feature a commercial that looks back through the last 20 years as a thank-you from Findlay Toyota and the Findlay family to the city of Las Vegas,” he said.
While the youngster in the commercial is grown up and hasn’t been on TV in quite some time, Barr continues to dominate the airwaves of both television and radio. In fact, he’s busier than ever now that he’s also the general manager of the dealership.
About the dealer
Founded by the late Pete Findlay, Findlay Toyota is a part of a group of 32 Findlay dealerships in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, Idaho and California.