How Do You Solve A Problem Like Pluralizing Prius?
You begin by recruiting James Lipton to interview a motley crew of people and animals, both living and dead, for casual conversation and an answer to the question: What's the plural of Prius?
Toyota has sought the answer to that question since the hybrid car's debut a decade ago. With the launch of three new Prius hybrid vehicles this year, the need for a proper, plural word became a high priority. Enter James Lipton from "Inside the Actors Studio."
Lipton interviews William Shakespeare, Randall the octopus, a trio of cheerleaders and a spelling bee winner, among others, in a series of online videos dubbed, "James Lipton's Wordliness."
In addition to the videos, Toyota called upon the public to cast their votes for the plural word for Prius on Facebook. The options were: Prii, Prius, Priuses, Prien and Prium.
What word would you choose? Shakespeare chose Prium, for it reminded him of "carpe diem." Three peppy cheerleaders felt the plural version of Prius should be the same as its singular partner: Prius. Randall the octopus selected the winning word that garnered the most public votes: Prii, with 25%. Prius came in second with 24% of votes.
Saatchi & Saatchi created the campaign, which received 1.8 million votes over a six-week period.
The winning word was announced Feb. 20, the final day of the Chicago Auto Show.
Better still, a rep from Dictionary.com was on hand to verify the winning word and update its online entry for Prius to reflect the change.
"We needed to develop a campaign that would build awareness and anticipation for three upcoming new Prius hybrid models," said Bob Zeinstra, national manager of advertising and strategic planning for Toyota. "There's a lot of competitive activity within the hybrid and electric segments and we needed to keep Toyota at the top of that conversation. We tapped into an existing question that has perplexed the Prius community for a decade: what is the plural of Prius?"
The final stage of the campaign will continue through March 31, to spread the word about the winning word.