Toyota Motor Sales USA has never before marketed the Prius to Hispanics, who account for 12% of the Toyota brand's U.S. sales overall, but only about 5% of Prius registrations and 6% of hybrid-vehicle sales. But research shows an uptick over the last few years in Hispanics' interest in the environment, and Toyota will start manufacturing the sold-out Prius in the U.S. in late 2010.
There was also an opportunity in the new global-warming section on Hispanic portal Terra, said Dionne Colvin, national manager-advertising and communication strategy at Toyota Motor Sales USA. "We thought it might be a good opportunity as a trial balloon to get an understanding of the resonance of the vehicle and the messaging."
Users click on a banner ad for the Prius Pixelometro at the top of the green page on Terra.com, or at priuspixelometro.com. Then they can download the application to measure the virtual distance the computer mouse travels online. The calculation goes like this: One mile equals 100 pixels; once converted into miles, the Pixelometro compares the amount of fuel a Prius needs to travel that distance to a regular sedan and shows the total fuel savings in dollars.
"The Hispanic market has a notion about the environment, but research shows they still have to see something concrete about savings, especially now," said Pablo Buffagni, VP-creative director at Conill, Toyota's U.S. Hispanic agency. "That's why the Pixelometro compares pixels with miles."
Less is more
Users can also download a screensaver showing an empty living room, closet or forest. As they save money on fuel, they can furnish the room, fill the closet with clothes or add leaves to the trees.
Conill and Toyota do some of the more innovative work in the U.S. Hispanic market, using digital strategies and other technology that didn't exist a few years ago. Conill and Toyota were the biggest winners at Ad Age's 10th annual Hispanic Creative Advertising Awards last month, taking home multiple prizes, including Best of Show for the Toyota Corolla campaign "Is That the Lineman?" In that campaign, videos playing at the bottom of the screen during a soccer tournament appear to be part of the live action as they show a lineman, a photographer and others being distracted from their jobs by huge signs for the new Toyota Corolla on the field. In another winning effort, Conill emphasized that the Tundra is a strong man's truck by appearing to place a man inside a revolving platform at an auto show, pushing it to make the truck on top revolve.
"[For Prius] our target is bicultural Latinos who switch between two cultures the way vehicles switch between gas and electricity," said Ana Rodriguez, VP-general manager of Conill's Los Angeles office.
Preliminary results show that traffic to the Prius section of toyota.com/espanol, where the Pixelometro is featured on the home page, is up about 70% since the test started in July.
In 2007, Toyota was the No. 8 advertiser in Hispanic media, spending $80.7 million, an increase of 16.9% in a year rivals Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. both cut their Hispanic spending slightly, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
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Contributing: Jean Halliday