The Wednesday and Thursday camp served as a media preview for the new 2014 Tundra pickup and 4Runner SUV. In addition to an hourlong presentation Wednesday afternoon, members of the media were treated to a program including a cocktail reception, fly-fishing, clay shooting and horseback riding. Journalists were also able to drive the new Tundra and take it off road.
For Barnsley Garden General Manager Michael Gordon, the event was a chance for the resort to gain publicity by serving a multinational brand.
“Well, we were excited, because of the brand, obviously, Toyota and that it being a truck and an introduction,” he said. “I think the important thing about it for us was that they wanted to be outside. They wanted to be outdoors where they could showcase our resort, as well as our hunting preserve, which is Spring Bank Plantation.
“They were over there a lot and across the street at the property, and when you have a brand like Toyota or Tundra come to your property, you know that you’re going to get a lot of PR. Not just from the local media, but it’ll be somewhat national.”
Barnsley, Gordon continued, is accustomed to hosting large, business-related events. However, the Toyota preview presented a new challenge for the staff: accommodating a company that brought a number of large pickups to the resort grounds.
“So we just have to make sure our staff is well-informed about what’s happening, as well as give them space because they’ve got a lot of trucks here. You know, I can’t remember the last group I had that brought in these trucks, so we have to make sure we have the space to prepare them and prepare them for their photography and things like that,” Gordon said.
The site selection process began months ago, said Toyota Motor North American Manager of Corporate Communications Javier Moreno. The company was looking at Atlanta for its East Coast preview, as the Southeast is the Tundra’s second-largest market, with the Gulf states forming the largest market. Moreno said they were looking at Atlanta and then discovered Barnsley Gardens.
“It’s a no-brainer. It makes sense to come this way. When we decided it was the state of Georgia where we wanted to have this event, we looked at several properties and what made Barnsley Gardens so attractive was the fact that the venue itself offers everything that we needed to be able to have a successful event,” he said.
The new Tundra has models ranging from a $25,920 SR aimed at commercial users to the $47,320 Platinum and 1794 Edition models equipped with ventilated leather seats and slathered with chrome. Such a combination of ruggedness and luxury was something Moreno believed the Tundra shared with Barnsley Gardens.
“We were looking for a place that had the same type of image or appeal that we hope to portray with Tundra as a truck,” he said. “So it’s outdoorsy, hardworking, built-tough type of persona or characteristics that we wanted to portray for the truck. So it was just the ideal venue.”
The mansion ruins helped seal the deal.
“To be honest with you, when I came for the site visit several months ago, what got me was the ruins. As soon as I said the ruins, I said, ‘This is it,’” Moreno said.
When Toyota invites journalists to a location, Moreno said the company attempts to mix the local culture into the event. In addition to using Barnsley’s chef for meals, organizers also reached out to Empire State South in Atlanta for catering in order to present Southern cuisine.
On a county level, Moreno believed Barnsley Gardens serves as an excellent representative for the community.
“I can tell you they have made it easy for us,” he said. “We do a lot of events and it’s amazing to see how some people are very flexible and others not, and the folks at Barnsley have been terrific partners that have worked with us on every step of the way. I think they are great ambassadors for tourism in this county, for the state of Georgia and for this part of the country.”