Toyota Gets People Buzzing -- but Not About a Car

Media Effort Mimics Music Strategy as Automaker Acts Like Apple

Published on .

Brand: Scion
Brand owner: Toyota Motor Corp.
Categories: Auto
Country: Japan
Date: December 2005-April 2006
Media Agencies: Dentsu, Build Creativehaus

This is the story about a car launch, or, rather, a car launch that pretended it wasn't a car launch but a campaign for the launch of a music player.

In a trend that we've dubbed "sector strategy swap," the arrival of the Toyota Scion bB was treated as if it was a music player rather than a car with a particularly cool hi-fi system.
The launch of the Scion bB was disguised to mimic that of a new music player.
The launch of the Scion bB was disguised to mimic that of a new music player.

In December 2005, Toyota announced it would launch a music player, and a logo was created to show a pair of musical notes with wheel motifs.

And the campaign went into musical mode, with badges distributed in key Tokyo locations. Each badge had a slogan and a release date, Dec. 26, just like a record label. The streets were patrolled by trendy-looking young men and women wearing billboard jackets -- with light-up panels on the back -- carrying the logo.

Inside all 54 HMV music stores across Japan, staff were kitted out in Toyota bB t-shirts, and bags also carried the same motif. And VJs on MTV Japan were also shown wearing the same dress code.

There were also the obligatory QR codes -- the raised bar codes on cellphones that connect to the internet when photographed -- to get users online, and a five-second TV spot was set for high-frequency broadcast in late-night shows.

Eventually the online rumor mill started suggesting that Toyota might even launch a MP3 player to rival Apple's iPod.

On Dec. 26, the Scion bB was unveiled at a Tokyo club, with a new track created by hip local pop stars. The music they performed was turned into a single.

The campaign attracted widespread media coverage with a mention in 150 newspapers and on eight TV networks.

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Cream is a U.K.-based magazine owned by C Squared Communications aimed at highlighting the best in creative media worldwide. All media ideas are part of C Squared's Creative Media Database.
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