Toyota's Scion Takes The Kids For A Ride

by , May 24, 2010, 4:22 PM
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Scion game Toyota's Scion division is trying something completely different. The brand's next-generation tC coupe doesn't come to market until the fall, but it is hoping to get 20-somethings talking about it with a Web-based cross-country journey, "Unlock the tC Road Trip."

The eight-week-long campaign elaborates on the Scion brand philosophy that the car is a vehicle both for moving around and for expressing oneself. In the game at UnlockthetC.com, players have to navigate from New York to Miami, with a final destination in Los Angeles.

As players "drive" from city to city, they can personalize their tC's at dealerships using a currency called tCoins, which players can earn by getting friends to join the game via routes like Facebook Connect.

The latest version is also the second generation of the tC, which first launched in 2004.

In each of the eight weeks, there is a different road trip and 140 daily prizes. Leaderboards will track player standings. At the end of the online competition, four finalists will be flown to Los Angeles for a VIP event on Aug. 14 to compete in a real-world competition, where one winner will receive a 2011 tC.

The effort is via Haley Miranda Group, which developed the contest and the Web site, social media marketing agency American Pop, which will be promoting the program, Beyond Marketing Group, and PR firm Rogers & Cowan.

Jack Hollis, VP of Scion, tells Marketing Daily that the program is intended to build awareness with a specific crowd -- young people who spend a lot of time on the Web. He says the tC has the youngest median-age buyer -- around 25 -- of any vehicle in the industry.

Scion is also the youngest brand in the industry in terms of the median age of its buyers. "We have to do things, obviously, that are much more innovative -- non-traditional," he says, adding that the program is designed as a "pull" marketing program that people should want to get involved in.

"These are mostly males, who spend a lot of time online, are socially connected in all digital social-media outlets; they are not just gamers, but fans of emerging startup sites as well."

Nancy Inouye, Scion advertising manager, says the company is promoting the game through social media. "We are not just mobilizing our fan pages -- we have 20,000 fans -- but also Twitter, and our Scion influencer network, and blogs," she says, adding that the game will get mileage via other digital channels as well as within dealerships.

And per Inouye, there is dealer integration in the game: registrants can also opt in for information from a dealer. Scion is also getting handraisers through its lifestyle programs and has run a pre-registration program for the car for the past three weeks. She says in the first two weeks, 1,000 consumers registered for information about the car, with 10% asking a dealer to contact them directly.

Says Hollis: "The whole goal was to do something that was slightly different from the traditional launch of a car, that has both branding elements and personalizing. What's cool is, it pays off with a real-world car."

Hollis says Scion, which has sold some 770,000 vehicles since the brand launched, has succeeded in winning younger people to Toyota. "Three-quarters have never purchased a vehicle from Toyota, Lexus or Scion, and 50% are staying in the brands for their next vehicle."

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