Toyota Gets Mischievous With Yaris

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Toyota "Yaris"
The new Toyota Yaris boasts many nifty features—the most notable being a bonafide personality. "The car is mischievous," smiles copywriter Conan Wang of Saatchi & Saatchi/Los Angeles, the agency behind a multi-pronged campaign that touts Yaris as the vehicle of choice for hip, young drivers on a budget. "Toyota wanted something youthful, something that reflected pop culture. They wanted to talk about the product features, but also the attitude of the vehicle." To fully convey that mischievous attitude (along with other useful traits like sleek design, affordability, fuel economy and MP3 compatibility), Saatchi recruited the acclaimed London-based digital animation shop Tokyo Plastic to craft TV spots, viral clips and mobisodes, as well as L.A.-based interactive design firm Hello Design and production company Harvest Films to create a web-based digital city guide.

Having captivated the digital and design worlds since 2002 with their groundbreaking website, Tokyo Plastic co-founders Sam Lanyon Jones and Andrew Cope applied their trademark animation style—simple but quirky, with a heavy dose of Japanese influence and a hint of subversive humor—to a series of four TV spots and one viral video depicting confrontations between a Yaris and strange creatures like a gas pump spider and an MP3 fly, all against a soothing white background. All the "characters" in these shorts, including the Yaris itself, bear Tokyo Plastic's distinct signature. "All of the elements have to have that consistency of quality," says Cope. "In that sense, it helps when you've got such a simple, pure format to work with. There's few elements in that white background, so each of them have to be really good. It makes it harder, but it also makes it easier." The animated bits will also be incorporated into 10-second sponsorship teasers that will accompany mobisodes of Prison Break: Proof of Innocence, a mobile spin-off of the popular Fox television series.

On the online side, visitors to Toyota's website can access Hello Design's digital city guide, which provides real video footage (courtesy of Harvest Films) of a Yaris driving along scenic routes through cities like L.A. and New York. As they cruise down the street, users switch between four different viewing angles as the virtual map points out trendy stores and cool restaurants for you to check out. "One of the initial ideas was filming a car from different points of view, almost like a video game," says creative director David Lai. "The idea grew from there and got more engaging when we asked, 'What if we synced that to a map with interesting places that are relevant to youth, and let them download and print the routes?' We wanted to tie it to places that kids would actually go and visit, whether it was cheap eats or a cool shop like Undefeated. It's relatively cheap to travel around now, so being able to go to different cities and explore them is something that's pretty relevant for today's youth."
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