Toyota (NYSE: TM) has had a series of well-publicized recalls recently, and in the latest J.D. Power & Associates' 2010 Initial Quality Study, U.S.-based competitor Ford (NYSE: F) showed a noticeable gain, while Toyota showed a noticeable drop.

The auto industry is cutthroat, and Toyota, with pressure from Ford, General Motors, and Honda (NYSE: HMC), has a tough road ahead. Overcoming its quality issues and those high-profile recalls (which prompted an awkward exchange between the U.S. Congress and Toyota execs) will not be easy.

But Toyota is doing one thing wonderfully right. Its Sienna ad campaign is brilliant.

Toyota has made the minivan, long a symbol of parental practicality and compromise, cool. The viral campaign calls the Sienna a "Swagger Wagon," starring a rapping family of four in all their cookie-cutter glory. (Do yourself a favor and watch the ads here on YouTube.)

The campaign, designed by Publicis' Saatchi & Saatchi, seems to be making an impact. In that same J.D. Power report, the Sienna was the top-ranked minivan overall. And The Birmingham News reported that:

A chief competitor of the [Honda] Odyssey is coming on strong right now. The Toyota Sienna, which debuted its own redesign earlier this year, is the subject of a "very thorough marketing campaign," [Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends and insights for] said.

My wife, who has worked in advertising for the past 10 years, told me, "People don't even think of Toyota when they see those ads. And that's exactly the point."

For a company with a tarnished image, a Swagger Wagon -- fun, playful, and cutting-edge -- will have consumers thinking about the company's cars and not its past problems. It's exactly what Toyota needs to get sales back on track.

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Brian Richards does not own shares of any companies mentioned. Ford is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor choice. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.