Commentary

Toyota Squanders iTunes Promo

"When is that band playing? Where? What do they sound like?" I have had questions like these come at me at least 30 times last week at the South by SouthWest music festival in Austin, Tex. With a few clicks on my nano, I can tell my new friend standing next to me which venue a band is playing, and at what time. If I have that artist on my iPod, I can hit the link at the bottom of the artist listing, and it plays a song from that artist. I give my ear buds to my new friend and she can listen to the band. (If I worked for a record label, I would never be without my nano. I have mentioned a friend of mine's band, Every Move A Picture, to quite a few people here. It is much easier to play one of their songs for someone than to try to explain their cool sound.)

Another benefit is that the entire SXSW schedule is available for download to a Palm or iPod from the SXSW.com Web site, thanks to a sponsorship by Toyota's Yaris. The deal was arranged by Promoguys, the promotional agency for Toyota.

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Micheal-John D'Alessio, president of Promoguys marketing group, said that Toyota is also using Yaris to shuttle some SXSW attendees from their hotels to the Austin Convention Center and other events. The technology that allows for downloading the SXSW schedule to an iPod was developed by CitizenPod LLC, whose co-founder, Keith Byrd, doubled as a bartender at the Austin music bar Stubb's. Drill Team Promotional Agency brought the idea to Toyota.

But Toyota seems to have missed out on an opportunity for significant branding on the iPod schedule. There is only one small line of text stating "brought to you by Yaris" on the opening page. On the Palm and cell phone applications Yaris also sponsors, there is Yaris branding on every page the user sees.

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