Toyota Touts Mobile Series With TV Ads

Toyota has launched a TV campaign to drive viewers to a new made-for-mobile video series on mobile phones.

“The Pool” is a humorous series of six short videos about a group of carpoolers, who happen to drive a Toyota Camry. It will debut on the global mobile comedy channels of video production company Fun Little Movies (FLM). It will be available for free to all Sprint users in the U.S. with a video-enabled phone beginning August 9. FLM’s network also includes Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and the SmartVideo service for Windows Mobile-powered smartphones.

“These mobile episodes are geared toward entertainment. They focus on the characters who have a story to tell, not on products,” Brad Gillingham, CEO of Fun Little Movies, told ClickZ. “The target audience is very sophisticated, and very smart. You have to present advertising content in ways that don’t insult their intelligence.”

Toyota is going after a twenty-something and thirty-something urban audience with this mobile series, particularly the group which some researchers call “connecteds.” This group uses technology to empower itself, and it’s very media-savvy, Gillingham said. The series is hoping that its comedic elements will inspire users to forward the episodes to friends.

The episodes will not have much commercial content, other than the product placement aspect of the car being a Toyota. Gillingham points to these mobile episodes as a way for advertisers to reach a desirable, and highly targeted niche audience.

The TV ad starts by extolling the virtues of the new Toyota Camry, including Bluetooth connectivity for mobile devices and “a thumping MP3-ready sound system.” It then introduces the mobile series, showing four African-Americans driving through city streets. The car’s phone rings, and one of the rear passengers leans forward to answer, admonishing the driver to be quiet so he can answer the phone. The ad will run on broadcast and cable TV networks including UPN, Fox, BET and ABC.

An online campaign is planned to launch next month when the mobile episodes become available.

FLM is currently in post-production for another mobile series for an online lifestyle brand, which Gillingham declined to name. It’s also in talks with brands ranging from autos to satellite radio to candy, he said.

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