Toyota Gets Interactive with New 4Runner Campaign

Toyota is planning a high-flying “extreme” adventure event to promote its new 2003 4Runner sports utility vehicle, and is turning to the Web to help get the word out.

Starting next month, the automaker’s U.S. sales unit, based in Torrance, Calif., is planning to promote the 4Runner with print, TV, outdoor and online ads in advance of its arrival in dealerships in two weeks.

The campaign, designed by the Los Angeles office of Saatchi & Saatchi, Toyota’s agency of record, seeks to hammer home the 4Runner’s toughness and strength by covering an attempt to scale Mt. Everest.

For the effort, Toyota teamed with cable TV/satellite Outdoor Life Network to develop a made-for-TV adventure sports competition, “Global Extremes: Mt. Everest — 4Runners of Adventure.” The contest will see amateur athletes competing in various competitions across the globe for a chance to retrace Sir Edmund Hillary’s route on the 1953 British expedition to climb Everest.

The contests will be broadcast on OLN and Disney’s ABC Network, while the ascent on Mt. Everest will be carried live on OLN.

Toyota will promote the “Global Extremes” show through ads on outdoors, sports, news and especially weather Web sites, including weather.com, accuweather.com and weatherbug.com. Toyota 4Runner also will serve as the exclusive sponsor of snow reports on wireless alerts provided by Mobliss.

A special campaign running on Yahoo will aim to drive traffic to a special site on the portal centered around the contest. The site will include profiles of the competitors, news, and video highlights. The site also will enable users to track the contest’s progress via mobile phone updates.

Toyota also plans to add new features to its home page to support the campaign, with a new section that each month will chronicle celebrities’ off-road adventures with the 4Runner. Toyota.com also will showcase a new, 3D technology module that will show off the 2003 4Runner’s new technology.

“We went to great extremes with this marketing campaign to demonstrate the capabilities of the all-new 4Runner,” said Steve Sturm, vice president of marketing at Toyota Motor Sales. “We chose Mt. Everest, the world’s most awe-inspiring adventure destination, as the centerpiece of our marketing efforts to truly communicate the 4Runner’s dominance and connect its adventurous spirit with its core buyers: those who aspire to reach the ultimate peak.”

The effort to promote the show on Yahoo is the latest deal signed by the Sunnyvale, Calif. Web portal to advertise upcoming television series. The company reached an agreement with News Corp.’s Fox Television to promote its upcoming fall season, and with Viacom’s UPN to spread the word about its two new series, “The Twilight Zone” and “Haunted”.

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