The scouts looking for filming locations in 2013 came back with the perfect place to shoot part of a Toyota television commercial: a row of stately townhouses in Coral Gables.
Little did they know one of the residences was home to Jeb Bush.
The production company pulled a permit from the city and filmed the bilingual commercial, which shows a young woman admiring — and taking a selfie with — her new love: a beaming red Toyota Corolla parallel-parked in front of the houses. (Talking to her on the phone, her Hispanic parents think she’s referring to a boyfriend, before they realize the love in question is a car.)
Only the exterior of Bush’s home — not the interior — appears, and only very briefly, in the commercial, shot for Miami-based advertising agency MGSCOMM. But there it is, part of the architecture-award-winning, classical-style Almeria Row homes. Bush, the former Florida governor and a presumptive 2016 Republican presidential candidate, and his wife, Columba, bought their four-bedroom, four-bathroom unit brand new in 2011 for $1.3 million.
“Neither the agency nor our client were aware of who resided at the home shown in the background of that particular scene,” Jorge Espinosa, MGSCOMM executive vice president for client services, said in an email to agency founder Manny Machado. Machado forwarded it to the Miami Herald after the newspaper asked about the spot. “We came to realize that Mr. Bush was a resident in that property only when he drove up to his home as we were filming.”
The crew was shooting “on public grounds adjacent to his home — not within the residence area,” Espinosa added. The location was picked because it was close enough to other places where the commercial was being shot, he said, and workers could easily move from one location to the next.
The permit granted by the city to post-production company PostMaster Video shows that the commercial was also filmed in two other nearby Gables locations, all on the same day in November 2013. The permit cost $193 and says a 30-member crew planned to spend about $200,000 on production. MGSCOMM shoots 12 to 20 Toyota commercials a year, Machado said.
Coral Gables sets more limits on filming in residential neighborhoods than, say, the city of Miami Beach — but less than the notoriously strict village of Key Biscayne, according to Graham Winick, the Beach’s film and production manager.
The Bushes have lived in the Gables since leaving the governor’s mansion in 2007. They rented a penthouse with a Granada Golf Course view and then bought a single-family home near Coral Gables Senior High School.
Miami Herald staff writer Jenny Staletovich contributed to this report.