Toyota's Tie-In With '24' Plays On Times Square

Toyota, which is a new automotive marketing partner for Fox's "24," got top billing yesterday in New York's Times Square as Fox aired a 2-minute, 20-second trailer for the sixth season premiere of its hit show.

Toyota sponsored the event to promote its 2007 RAV4 SUV. Actor Kiefer Sutherland, on video, introduced the extended trailer for "24"--which ran on the Panasonic News Astrovision screen, with Toyota's tagline, "Moving Forward."

Toyota branding was also emblazoned on thousands of portable radios handed out by street teams at the event, which was timed to coincide with Oct. 24.

"Fox approached us two weeks ago, and [the deal] gelled pretty fast," said Toyota spokesperson Cindy Knight. She said Toyota also has a presence on the "24" web site, www.24trailer.com. A mobile component of the sponsorship puts the trailer and a Toyota-branded title card on view through mid-January to owners of Sprint PowerVision phones.

Knight said Toyota will also sponsor a six-minute prequel, which will be included only on the DVD of season five of "24." The DVD will be available in December and carry two RAV4 ads for Toyota--"Heist" and "Frenchy Lombard."

"Toyota is getting exclusive branding and sponsorship opportunities with the prequel," Knight said, "but we are not the regular season sponsor of "24," nor do we have product placement in the show--only in the prequel."

Toyota, which launched a new model of the RAV4 in February, has seen a 104 percent increase in sales of the vehicle through September, a month when Toyota sold 11,551 of the vehicles. Through September, Toyota has sold 115,684 RAV4's versus 56,466 during the first nine months of 2005. The new version is 14 inches longer, and comes with a more powerful engine. It competes in the small SUV category, the only SUV segment to grow this year, according to Car Concepts.

In 2005, Toyota spent only $14 million on the RAV4, according to Nielsen Monitor Plus, but spent $119 million through August of this year.

Ford used an exclusive partnership with the show "24" in 2004 to promote vehicles like the F-150 pickup and Mustang. It no longer has an exclusive relationship, but still features some vehicles in the show.

Toyota, in an effort to attract younger buyers to its brand, also ran a mobile-media promotion with Fox in April for its then-new Yaris sub-compact car. Two-minute episodes of "Prison Break" included marketing messages for the Yaris as part of a reported $10 million deal.