Scion Drives To A New Beat

National roll-out focuses on hip-hop

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% While not abandoning traditional media, Toyota Motor Sales USA will pump up the volume this summer on nontraditional entertainment-based marketing efforts for the national rollout of its Scion sub-brand. The marketer is hitching itself to hip-hop music, art and fashion to reach trendy 25-year-olds.

The automaker launched Scion in California with just two models last June, targeting young trendsetters. It wants to continue its word-of-mouth buzz, according to Brian Bolain, Scion national sales promotion manager with promotions all built around the theme of "show us your skills".

The marketer teamed with Inform Ventures, Los Angeles, for the "Next Up" emcee rapper competition. Starting in early July, people can upload their own hip-hop songs to scionnextup.com. Online voters will determine the winner. Scion will produce and promote the winner's music video and shop the winner to music labels, said Patrick Courrielche, managing director of events and publicity at Inform. Inform also created and developed Scion's branded, lighthearted docu-drama, "On the D.L.," which premiered earlier this month at New York's TriBeCa Film Festival.

A D.J. mixing competition, dubbed "Free Up Your Mix," starts this summer. Scion licenses songs through partner Urb magazine and its Rebel Organization events unit. The winner will be featured on a Scion-branded CD distributed at events.

An online game, created by Dentsu's Oasis, Los Angeles, arrives in mid-June.

%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% Also in June, Scion starts two, simultaneous tC coupe ride-and-drive tours via Omnicom Group's AMCI auto consultancy. In conjunction with the tour, consumers in each city will be asked to submit two-minute videos about what Scion means to them. The winner of the so-called "Unleashed" contest gets a Pioneer plasma-screen TV and their video online.

In addition, Scion's xA and xB models will appear in MTV's "The Assistant" this summer, with the winner getting the tC coupe. Bolain said Scion was approached by the cable TV network to contribute the vehicles and prize and will probably advertise during the reality show.

The marketer, which projects 2004 sales of between 70,000 and 75,000 units, said it sold 10,898 Scions in the seven months it was on sale in California in 2003 and 16,882 cars through April 2004.

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