Hi! I'm Brian Ortega, the other one. Not the MMA fighter who takes up all the Google searches, the one who does the out-of-the-box 📦 car commercials out in California.
In 2012, I was "let go" from a Government contractor position because I was charging my iPhone on a computer.
And like most people, when change occurs, it hurts. For 9 months I was on food stamps trying to support my wife and 3 sons, who were young at the time.
I was then offered a job that was far away, where the commute would be taxing ⛽ is always expensive when you're broke, am I right?
But I took a leap of faith and entered the automotive industry. I was hired as the 📷🚘 Used-Car-Picture-Taker for Valley Hi Toyota. I went through the motions but found myself having too much time waiting for cars to be ready.
I have a film degree from UC Santa Barbara because I was horrible at math and science, but I love movies- hey why not? I've always made films, ever since we borrowed HI-8 cameras and edited on iMovie (That iMac DV was a beast back then.) So I assisted the Social Media guy by making videos for him to post. Well, let's just say I eventually took over. I was movin' on up, which was new to me. Counting beans for the government was all I did and there was never room for growth. UNTIL RETAIL AUTOMOTIVE. Long story short, I dubbed myself the Creative Director and we're putting out different content constantly. Our TV commercials are things of beauty and taking chances, whether it's good or sucks, is what gets me going. Take a look and nice meeting you.
I believe everyone is creative! I also think that far too often than not we limit our ideas because we want to remain prudent or status quo.In 2017, we were approached by Spectrum Reach to do car commercials that were out of the ordinary. It was a rocky start, but the evolution began to take place. Initially, General Manager, "Toyota" Todd was the only one in the commercials. I was on set for the spots giving him direction on his delivery of the lines. I direct some stuff like short videos, Christmas Plays at my church, and highlight videos.The team approached us by mentioning that perhaps the dealership includes little ole me in the spots.🚀 And we were off! 2 is better than 1 and the ideas just started to mount! Our brainstorming sessions are intense and interactive. Everyone has a say, and no idea is off-limits! Go ahead and see what I mean. Check out our commercials below and witness the evolution from regular dudes to some acting fools. 🎥 📺
Seriously, thanks for checking out our stuff. I appreciate you for taking time to do so.
Prius Cowboy (2017)
One of our first commercials. We shot 3 in one day and that was too many. I like my cow vest, reminds me of Woody. No horses were harmed. 🐴
Presidents Day Duel (2017)
This was the first actual commercial we shot. The chemistry was not there because we shot it separately. We never did that again. But you could see Todd and I were on to something.
Steal of a Deal (2017)
Our early spots were about finding our identity. How far were we going to take these characters? The acting was subpar on this one.
History in the Making (2017)
I loved the concept of this one. Todd didn't like it because he felt the hair was too 80s hair band! We went back and forth on speaking regular or "cave-manning" it up.
Construction Update (2017)
Pretty straightforward. We took a break from the antics to announce our construction. We wanted to let the community know what was going on.
Prius vs. Race Cars (2017)
I actually own a Prius and I always pictured this concept of the race cars gassing up but the Prius staying out. Slow and steady. See tortoise vs. hare.
Summer Slam (2017)
Cody, our director pitched this concept and we were all for it. Especially, since I thought my "Macho" Man impression was pretty good. We probably couldn't get away with this anymore.
Super Hero vs. Villian (2017)
Spectrum always pictured 2 is better than one. There are so many scenarios that can play out between two people. Superhero movies were really taking shape and we wanted to hop on board. Shauna (Kernel) designed the "Toyota" Todd costume. I remember my head drenched with sweat at the end. Ask me for the photo.
Zombies I (2017)
One of my favorite by far! Everyone was committed to bringing this one to life. Hours in makeup, the script was on point. "Brains" was born. It was the start of something for our Halloween spot.
Black Friday Doctors (2017)
Of course, we had to spoof Black Friday sales! Every year you would hear of someone getting trampled on. Wow! I wished I saved that mask.
Santa Todd & Elf Brian (2017)
This was a fun one. The concept was hilarious. I kept the elf ears on and we went to dinner after. I talked with a high-pitched voice when I ordered. We had a blast. I think we have some outtakes on this one. The actress was great.
Holiday Leftovers (2018)
We caught some flack on this New Year's spot. But man, Alex, the guy who did my make-up, was on point. We went live and I did the Humpty-Dance wearing the fat suit.
Service Mantra (2018)
I didn't do this one. I couldn't. I was severely heartbroken at the time. I wrote the mantra, but I also wrote myself out of it. My mom was battling stage-4 cancer at the time.
Presidents Day - Overdoing It (2018)
Back at it! "Brian goes over the top anyway." My wife loves this one. I was so loud at the dealership and Service area. The slow-mo shot is my favorite. Walking inspired by George Jefferson.
Speedy Car Delivery (2018)
We were on the delivery kick pretty early. I wanted to be like Jim Carey in Ace Ventura, the screaming scene. Todd loved yelling at me too much to get into the rocket car.
Invest in Fidget Coin (2018)
Top 5 for me. Fidget spinners were in, Bitcoin was getting more mainstream, and the fact that we tied it in with Tax season was perfect! One of my favorite acting jobs too. The freeze frame is funny.
Sooold! World Cup (2018)
I was shopping at JC Penny and I just kept saying Soooold! It was near the World Cup. I just threw the concept out and we brainstormed a great spot. A lot of complaints though because it got pretty annoying.
Too Much Summer (2018)
We adlibbed a great portion of this one. Todd and Robert finally spent more time in make-up than I! It gets really hot in the High Desert.
Rowdy Rodney's Tent Sale (2018)
We made up this character for our Used Car Manager. I've been dubbed a clown so I said let's roll with that. Rodney's great on-screen.
Price Shrinker I (2018)
Cody (our director), pitched this and we were impressed with the concept. Todd had a field day calling me tiny Brian.
Behind The Lens (Stars) (2018)
At the time, the word was getting around about our quirky spots. We wanted to make fun of that. I remember going to a barber and asking him to make my beard look like Jon B's.
Zombies II (2018)
So the previous Halloween a Zombie family bought a Camry. Well, obviously they have to get it serviced as well. We got to introduce the waiting area, because hey, every BODY is welcome.
Santa Buys Toyotas (2018)
Cody pitched a fast-paced, Hollywood-style spot. We were promoting our Express Retailing tool at that time. Sure! Let's have Santa make Valley Hi Toyota do the heavy lifting.
Times Square (2019)
This was a must. The Times Square ball drop is iconic. Our New Year spots are about me trying to make something better, but just not quite functional.
Presidents Day Debate (2019)
The gentleman who played Todd's rival was amazing. Once again, we're touting the Express way to buy a car, this was pre-Covid too! It was hard to keep a straight face while totally dismissing the poor guy,
Make It Rain Tax Day (2019)
Apparently, this one was too gangsta! We had some complaints about the slap too. I loved shooting this day, because I always wanted to dress like 90s Hip-Hop NY-style. We were bumping Bell Biv DeVoe too!
Game Of Loans (2019)
This is when the series finale was about to take place. During the brainstorming session, I pitched doing something with Game of Thrones and one of the producers blurted out, "Game of Loans!" However, legally we couldn't say that.
Sunday Service (2019)
Another controversial spot! We were about to open our Service department on Sundays. Sunday Service was perfect! And what is the first thing we think of? Church! By the way, my pastor approved this (although some of the community didn't).
VHT Soap Opera (2019)
The Kernel team pitched this idea and of course, we wanted to make it stand out more. We thought about doing more episodes of Valley Center Drive, which is actually the street the dealership is on.
Take the Tacoma (2019)
Probably one of most "regular" commercials. Summer and the Tacoma go hand in hand. The subtle graphics really make this one stand out.
Price Shrinker II (2019)
Out of all the commercials, this is the most requested to have a sequel. 70s buddy cop movie?! Yes, please. Another one of my dreams come true.
Zombies III (2019)
Episode 3? Already? The Zombie family is growing, so obviously they have to trade in the Camry for a Sienna! Oh, and I get bit. What's next? Keep scrolling.
Holiday Jams Collection (2019)
Sing and rap?! Sign me up. Todd came up with this concept to do a spot similar to the Time | Life infomercials. Too bad this album isn't available anywhere.
Drone Delivery (2020)
We have some of the best FX artists for sure! Remember when Amazon kept dropping hints about delivering products via drones? We just had to jump on this concept.
VR Presidents Day (2020)
Another trending topic at the time. Virtual Reality was really getting into the vernacular during COVID. Check out the commitment to Abe Lincoln's beard too!
Botched Surgery (2020)
We always try to go over the top with the tax return concepts. What better way to join the crowd with some good ol' plastic surgery using some recently acquired riches?
Back to Work (Covid-19) (2020)
We were debating how to go about handling COVID-19 at the time. How could we be serious yet still have our brand intact? We managed to maintain our lightheartedness, yet also deal with the issue at hand.
Drive Thru Test Drive (2020)
I recall mentioning the fact that families were having drive-thru parties and events. Why not a drive-thru test drive? Baking out in the High Desert sun was worth it! Is that a DJ?
VHT Land (animation) (2020)
Welcome to Valley Hi Toyotaland. We always wanted to do an animation with characters from the dealership.
Another Covid spot! Honestly, this one was not one of my favorite executions. The idea in my head didn't translate on-screen too well. Zoom meetings were the talk of the town and instances where life was happening behind the meeting gone viral.
Zombies IV (2020)
I love this one. The way we keep moving with the Zombie story is awesome. The Kernel crew really pulled off some great takes. Long day for sure with some fishing wire and tape. It's the arm thing!
UFO Trade-in (2020)
This was when the alien info was getting declassified. The whole storming Area-51 was still fresh, and every tabloid was talking about UFOs or UAPs. Hey! Why not have an alien trade in his mode of transportation?
Toyotathon Christmas (2020)
If you're in the Toyota-world, Toyotathon in December is it! Cody (our director) always wanted to place a huge Christmas tree in the showroom. I just had to get the Wilhelm scream in there!
Price Shrinker III (2021)
We were starting to use our NEW GSM, Efrain, in the spots. Why not bring back a crowd favorite, the handy ol' Price Shrinker and hand it off to the New Guy!
Car Connection Game Show (2021)
I love this one! Simple, yet nostalgic to the old dating shows. I can get pretty cheesy, and my quips were perfect for this scenario. Look up "Camry Get a Whoop Whoop" in Giphy 😜.
SmartPath Western (2021)
Now that Efrain was fully onboard as the third amigo, what better way to showcase us as a Smartpath dealership? Another childhood dream checked off 🤠.
Cooking Show (2021)
Every celebrity has their own cooking show- why not the Valley Hi Toyota team? Well, I guess we better keep our day jobs. I had so many other recipes ready to cook though! Maybe for the Holiday Special.
90's Sitcom (2021)
This one actually won us the Telly Award. Todd isn't a big fan of it, but who doesn't remember getting the family together on a Friday night for some TGIF sitcoms? (Yes, that's me singing the theme song.) I know- don't quit my job. 🎤
Are We There Yet? (2021)
Before handing iPads and Nintendo Switches in little hands and telling them to be quiet, we actually had to endure the family road trip. Perfect for our Summer spot and to introduce the Highlander hybrid. Recall and think back when you asked the infamous question, "Are we there yet?"
We'll Buy Anything...Anything (2021)
OK, initially I wanted different famous cars to be traded in. The General Lee, KITT from Knight Rider, Ecto 1 from Ghostbusters, and so on. Obviously, legal wouldn't allow us to so we added all types of mode of transportation to be traded in.
Hasta La Hybrid, Baby (2021)
Before gas prices got ridiculous, and the fact that Toyota's lineup had a hybrid model, I was driving home (in my Rav4 Prime hybrid) and kept saying, "Valley Hybrid Toyota" and thinking about car sales in the future. It's not one of our best, but I just had to get the line in there to match Arnold's "I'll be back."
1st Dealership on the Moon (2021)
Top 5 for me. I think the story, the execution, the costumes, and the comedic reveal all brought it home. I wish we had more time to develop this one. This was when Elon, Bezos, and Branson were all headed up into space...why not a car dealership staking their claim too?!
Zombies V (2021)
Now that Todd, Efrain, and I are all *ahem infected with the Zombie virus, well, life (or death) goes on. Do we end it here? or get ready for Halloween 2022 with another theme? Let's talk about it!
Thankful for Reviews (2021)
Surprisingly, I still like mashed potatoes. I really like the execution of this spot. Shout out Shauna from Kernel for actually making a turkey and the sides! I think there were 18 takes of me eating! Check it out!
The Holidizer (2021)
This commercial is a take on the Price Shrinking gun. Cody, (the producer) came up with making everything at the dealership more "Christmassy." OMG! We had to use Elf-rain! 🧝🏼♂️
Valley Hi 👋🏼 Guy (2022)
We once again start off the year with another brilliant Brian concoction! We introduce the Valley Hi 👋🏼 Guy! The picture of the hand costume was better than what was shown. It looked like a pack of hot dogs. (Notice the Ted Lasso get-up.)
Valley Verse- Meta (2022)
Buzzwords and Google trends definitely help when coming up with concepts. I just knew we had to get in the Metaverse. We beat you, Brian Kramer! 😜
SmartPath Skydive (2022)
We've been big-time advocates of Toyota's digital retailing tool, SmartPath ever since we signed on. The movie magic the team came up with was amazing. Greenscreen for the win!
Won't You Adopt a Used Car? (2022)
When an idea is pitched, we just start dropping vignettes that we can get away with. Sarah McLachlan's ears must have been ringing. Plus, we were able to promote Used Cars, especially during a time when that's all we have on the lot.
Frankie's The Man-NOT! (2022)
Frankie, my assistant, had been hinting he wanted to be in a commercial. This concept had been brewing for a while. We made a whole campaign out of it.
Todd Gunn-Blockbuster (2022)
Top Gun was back! A Summer blockbuster. Once again, we had to pull some stuff back due to legal ramifications. But Eric , the artist behind the scenes, did amazing with the post production!
Beware of Gasquash (2022)
We're always considering what's going on around us. During the brainstorming session, I just had the thought of Bigfoot with a gas pump. Gasquash came after the shoot.
Behind the Scenes Episode 1 (2022)
There's a lot of waiting goin' on the day of the commercials shoots. Now with Frankie on board, we're able to execute this idea I had about creating a BTS narrative. I take it overboard and believe I'm truly a star.
Behind the Scenes Episode 2 (2022)
We had so much fun just coming up with ideas on the fly, we thought, "Hey! Why not?" It's even better when more of the staff are in on it.
Behind the Scenes Episode 3 (2022)
It's really turning into a narrative, Office-Style. With this episode, we incorporated not only the spots, but the Behind-The-Scenes, AND even a contest between Frankie and myself.
Behind the Scenes Episode 4 (2022)
This one was totally off the cuff! Last minute sometimes brings out the best. Short and sweet.
Behind the Scenes Episode 5 (2022)
"Halloween 🧟 Edition" I get frustrated that everything thinks going to the Academy is a must.
Behind the Scenes Episode 6 (2022)
We're not taking mud-slinging to the max! Our spoof on politics goes a little too far with this back and forth edition.
Behind the Scenes Episode 7 (2022)
"Holiday Edition 🎅🏼" We have so many extras at the dealership, I get upset that now enough attention is on me."
Outtakes from Prius Cowboys (2017)
One of our first spots together. So many takes to get it right! We were starting to get to know the crew and they were getting impatient with the bloopers. I had a blast.
Outtakes from Wrestlers (2017)
Getting into character is easy when you have makeup and costumes. You know what's not easy? Memorizing lines and direction. C'mon- we're not trained actors.
Outtakes from Mr. President (2018)
This is my wife's favorite spot. We just went around the whole dealership trying out ideas. I love the maniacal slow-mo laugh.
Outtakes from Make It Rain (2019)
I got to get my groove on which was a blast. They globbed that make-up on big time. I also think Todd really enjoyed getting to slap me.
Outtakes Toyotathon Christmas (2020)
This was Efrain's first commercial. You could tell he was pretty nervous. We had to tie me up in front of a greenscreen for a long time. A big-time Ab workout for sure.
Outtakes Cooking Show (2021)
Shooting a spot at the studio is a lot better. Betting lighting. No distractions. We can concentrate. But that doesn't mean we'll get it right. Efrain was still working out the jitters on this one.
Outtakes Astro-NOT (2021)
I really love the final version of this spot. Those astronaut costumes were outrageously hot! We kept having to catch our breath. At least I got some corny dad-astronaut jokes in there. Todd wanted to hurry up and get out of the suit. The price you pay for authenticity.
Outtakes Zombieland (2021)
Zombie days are super long. Hours of makeup really get us amped up. Check out this Vlog of the entire day shot by Frankie, my assistant. Walking throughout the dealership means interesting looks from our customers.
Auto Collabs Podcast- Paul J. Daly, Kyle Mountsier, Michael Cirillo
Car Guy Coffee Podcast- Fred Lennartz & Lou Ramirez
Business of Parenting Podcast- Jason Harris
KPI Cafe- Dane Seville
Coffee With Jason- Jason Harris
Auto Geniuses Podcast Appearances
New Year's 2018- Holiday Leftovers
New Year's 2019- Times Square Ball Drop
New Year's 2020- Drone Delivery
(re-aired for 2021)
New Year's 2021- New Year. New Guy.
New Year's 2022- Valley "Hi" Guy
New Year's 2023- Valley Hi Toyota Auditions