2007 Online All Star: Mark Templin

Unconventional Thinker

Mark Templin

Vice president, Scion,Toyota Motor Sales, USA

The notorious Toyota Scion — ugly outcast or gorgeous rebel? — may seem miles apart from the automaker’s iconic luxury car, Lexus, but they do have one important thing in common: Each markets to a highly specific audience, almost to the point of alienating everyone else.

“We’re not trying to be everything to everybody,” says Mark Templin, a 17-year veteran of Toyota Motor, who became vice president for Scion in 2005, after serving as vice president of Lexus marketing. He’s been with Toyota Motor Sales since 1990. “We see Scion as a laboratory for change, as our incubator. Everybody expects
us to experiment and try new things.”

Templin’s leadership helped produce this year’s cutting-edge campaign for the new xB, which included and Unbranded but provocative TV commercials drove home images of cubes, reminiscent of Scion’s boxy shape, and led users to an interactive branded site.

“The xB campaign was a way for us to say, ‘Don’t be like everyone else,’ ” Templin says. (See “Who Wants a Car Just Like All the Other Sheeple’s?” on page 38, for -more details about the Little Deviants campaign.)

But executing that message meant Templin had to take a big risk.

“The campaign is polarizing,” says Nancy Inouye, Scion’s advertising manager. Inouye also worked in the Lexus division with Templin. “There are some individuals who just love it, and there are some individuals who just don’t get it, they don’t understand it. That’s just the nature of the brand.”

Scion’s next steps include incorporating the brand’s touchpoints into the customer’s whole experience, Templin says. Owners will experience the brand even at its call centers; representatives will call owners to ask about their cars and to invite them to Scion events — though it’s worth noting some events are organized by owners themselves.

To keep up, Templin attends as many Scion events each month as possible, though the number can climb to 200. He visits Scion dealers and regularly travels to Japan. Though he travels a lot, Templin is always accessible to the Scion team, Inouye says. He helps set strategy, gets involved in the creative, and supports daring campaigns like the new one for the xB, she says.

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