LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- The Fox network's conspiracy thriller "24," which has been closely identified with Ford Motor Co. vehicles, will get its first Toyota brand integrations in the upcoming fifth season of the show.
|Stars of '24' kick off the relationship with Toyota by driving Avalon and Prius models in a 10-minute promo for the new season.
The short film is intended to bridge the gap between season four and season five, which launches early next year. It revolves around a car chase with the lead character, Jack Bauer, played by Keifer Sutherland, behind the wheel of a Toyota Avalon. A Prius also makes an appearance in the mini-movie.
Loyal "24" fans are rabid for extra content, especially exclusive bits that tell the back story or give clues to the show's twisting plot, said Rob Donnell, president of brand entertainment firm Brand Arc, which represents Toyota. They're upscale viewers who watch the content closely, making them good targets for the marketer, he said.
Toyota wanted to do more than just embed its cars into the show, working with the producers to come up with new content that moves the story along. "We wanted a fresh way to get involved with the show," Mr. Donnell said. "This is a short film that really shows off the cars."
The mini-movie portrays the midsize Avalon sedan as an easily maneuvered car, a brand attribute that the marketer stresses in its advertising of the model.
Toyota has stepped up its brand integration activity, said Mark Simmons, the marketer's national manager of advertising strategy and media, with a focus on TV. Various models have popped up on "Six Feet Under," "The O.C." and "Three Wishes." Such deals will be increasingly important as Toyota rolls out a number of new models in '06, he said.
The Fox series works well because it has a "passionate, loyal fan base that's very attentive to what goes on in the show," Mr. Simmons said.
Mr. Donnell said it is not yet decided how many episodes will feature Toyota models. Toyota will not be the exclusive car partner for the drama, and Ford likely will continue to supply vehicles for product placement. American-made sedans and sports utility vehicles make particularly good choices for government cars, which abound in the critically-acclaimed series.
Ford's F-150 truck and other models have been closely associated with "24" in past seasons and Ford sponsored a commercial-free premiere of the show in fall 2003. The truck was featured in much of the on-air promotion surrounding the series.