Toyota Pushes Scion Online

  |  March 27, 2002   |  Comments

The Japanese automaker takes the wraps off its new youth-focused brand, and is expected to throw heavy Internet advertising behind its launch.

The U.S. sales unit of automaker Toyota on Wednesday unveiled its new youth-focused Scion brand, along with the start of what's expected to be an extensive Internet effort designed to promote the line.

As the centerpiece of a branding effort designed by Los Angeles agency Fresh Machine, the Web site will offer photos and video previews of the brand's cars, which will begin appearing in showrooms in coming months, along with links for visitors to request additional product information.

But in a bid to woo young consumers, Scion.com also will offer music downloads and other sorts of content, like articles, that center on hip youth culture and not necessarily automobiles. Fresh Machine, which worked with the hip-hop/techno music-focused URB Magazine on developing the brand and the Scion.com content, also developed kiosk displays promoting the Scion and using site elements.

"Our approach was to create a lifestyle experience for Web site visitors. The site aims to communicate the values of the Scion lineup," said Fresh Machine founder Rick Bolton. "The site is hip, streamlined, technological without being geeky, and loaded with visual imagery. As Scion moves forward, the values embodied on the site will be tied to specific cars."

"Toyota's Scion aims to connect in a new way with a new generation of car owners," he added.

The brand launch comes three months after the Japanese automaker confirmed that it was considering using the Internet as the marketing centerpiece of a new, then-unnamed consumer product line that would complement its existing Toyota and Lexus brands.

Toyota has remained mum on exactly how much of the Scion's marketing budget it plans to allocate to the Internet, though in a December interview with InternetNews.com, Toyota spokespeople said the company had been impressed with the launch success of its Prius -- for which marketing and sales were handled online -- and was considering something similar for its upcoming youth brand.

The campaign for the Prius, Toyota's hybrid vehicle that debuted last year, resulted in better-than-expected demand and a months-long waiting list, spokespeople said.

The launch of Scion.com also continue a wave of recent efforts by big-name advertisers to use the Web to focus on young consumers, with firms including Frito-Lay, Pepsi and Levi Strauss launching large-scale online campaigns.

Yet Toyota remains one of only a few automakers that have trusted vehicle launches in large part to the Internet. Volvo, in 2000, tapped the Web for the initial consumer advertising behind its S60 sedan. Late last year, the Swedish automobile manufacturer also struck a multi-million dollar ad deal with Microsoft-owned MSN, in conjunction with the debut of its first SUV.

In 2000, Ford Motor Co. used the Internet heavily in marketing its Ford Focus, while Volkswagen sold two colors of its New Beetle exclusively on the Internet.

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