Toyota Taps AOL, MSN for New Camry Launch

Toyota is rolling out a massive cross-media ad campaign in support of its 2002 Camry sedan, with a significant portion of that push going to Web channels, courtesy of AOL Time Warner and Microsoft’s MSN.

Torrance, Calif.-based Toyota Motor Sales USA did not disclose how much of the $160 million campaign will be carried out online, but it did say that it considers the medium an important part of the mix, helping the company to reach “a new generation of Camry buyers.”

The multi-platform effort aims to reach 90 percent of all Americans with more than eight impressions during the next two months. Offline, the third-largest vehicle manufacturer and the fourth-largest automaker in North America will run ads in nine of New York-based AOL Time Warner’s magazines and seven Conde Nast publications.

Online, the media plan translates into a push to grab the eyeballs of 75 percent of all U.S. online users, or approximately 67 million people.

The new media buy includes ads and custom promotions on the America Online service and AOL Time Warner Web properties including Netscape, CompuServe, Winamp and AOL Digital City. For example, Toyota will be featured in a redesigned Autos Channel of the America Online service, as well as in the Autos areas of Netscape and CompuServe. Additionally, America Online will create a special Web “showroom” for the new Camry.

Sites for several AOL-owned magazines and cable networks will also promote the new car, with ads appearing on Entertainment Weekly‘s EW.com, Fortune.com, Money.com, People.com, and CNN.com.

Additionally, AOL’s Time Inc. magazine group is developing a special issue of TIME Magazine devoted to world music, which will be sponsored by Toyota. Other ads and magazine inserts will appear in People, Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, Money and Southern Living. The special issue and the magazine inserts will contain information on a special “Music Goes Global” site that will feature exclusive Web content, artist photos and message boards — and ads for Toyota.

Within that site, America Online and TIME.com said they would develop and promote an online area for Toyota called “Backstage Pass,” which will offer consumers a sneak peek at the new Camry and links to Toyota.com.

Toyota also will sponsor an Oct. 9 concert on AOL-owned TNT, “Come Together: A Night for John Lennon,” which the media conglomerate will promote through on-air, print and online ads.

In addition to the cross-media work with AOL, Toyota is also launching a hefty campaign courtesy of Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft’s stable of Web properties.

The auto manufacturer will run ads on MSN and MSN Carpoint, with streaming media banners and interactive ads running on MSNBC.com and Slate.

In addition to regular ad inventory, MSN said it would create special editorial content around the new car and keep a photo of the new Camry on its home page. The photo will link to a special vehicle page on the MSN Carpoint, which will contain photographs and a detailed description of the Camry’s features and options.

Furthermore, MSN will stream 15-second versions of Toyota’s broadcast ads prior to streaming content at WindowsMedia.com.

The third component of the online campaign will center around an enhanced music CD, developed by Pasadena, Calif.-based Disc Marketing. The auto manufacturer will distribute a CD featuring songs and interviews with artists like Lyle Lovett; the Go-Go’s; and Earth, Wind and Fire — in addition to information on the new Camry and links to Toyota.com. The CD will be available at Macy’s and Wherehouse Music locations, for a suggested donation of $1, which will go to a music education fund.

Inserts in Conde Nast publications Vanity Fair, Wired, Conde Nast Traveler, Bon Appetit, Self, GQ and The New Yorker also will include profiles musical artists appearing on the “Making Tracks” CD.

In all, Toyota says the effort should be remembered for the sheer depth of its cross-media integration.

“Toyota was looking for a special way to launch the newest generation of our No. 1-selling car — the Camry — for 2002,” said Steve Sturm, vice president of marketing at Toyota Motor Sales, USA. “We knew we could only be successful in reaching almost every American with the Camry message by working with a variety of leading companies that span all forms of media. With the help of our broadcast, print, online and convergence media partners, who are collaborating with Toyota around a central musical theme, Toyota has set the bar for the future of marketing campaigns in America with the 2002 Camry launch.”

That’s music to the ears of companies like AOL, which routinely touts its ability to pull together elements of its broadcast, online and print empire for advertisers, and which earlier this month created a special group to oversee such deals.

“Toyota has been a valued marketing partner of Time Inc.’s for many years, and we’re pleased to expand that relationship,” said AOL co-chief operating officer Bob Pittman. Today Toyota is taking the lead in initiating the marketing campaign of the future — the kind of totally integrated cross-platform marketing solution that can only be found at AOL Time Warner with its unparalleled family of print, TV and online brands and 135 million subscription relationships.”

Toyota’s not the first to attempt a big splash with integrated automotive marketing, however. A integrated campaign from Ford last year aimed to boost interest in its new Focus by driving traffic to its Web site from TV and print ads.

Later that year, Volvo launched its new S60 sedan through a consumer advertising effort conducted entirely online. And earlier this year, BWM grabbed headlines with its series of Web short films at BWMfilms.com.

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