$50 Million Effort Includes Heavy Internet Marketing

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DETROIT ( -- Toyota Motor Sales USA tapped independent Attik, San Francisco, and Dentsu's Oasis, New York, as it agency partners for the estimated $50 million launch its new Scion youth sub-brand next summer.

Attik "virtually embodies the thinking of our target" of 18- to 24-year-olds, said Brian Bolain, national manager for Scion. Oasis, which has handled the corporate ad account for Toyota Motor North America since 1993, "has an untapped creative potential" to do Internet work for Scion, he added. "We certainly expect a large number of our customers will come to us through the Internet."

Won't reveal contenders
The two agencies were

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among nine invited to pitch and survived a cut to four. Mr. Bolain declined to reveal any of the other contenders. He said other partners will be hired for their expertise as needed. Scion is already working with Urb magazine and the magazine's internal marketing team and Enterprise Communications, which will do graphics.

Attik gets its name from its first headquarters in 1986 -- the Huddersfield, U.K., attic of the founder's grandmother. The San Francisco office opened in 1998 and now has 20 employees. Although Attik's roots are in design, the agency has expanded its capabilities to include most aspects of traditional agencies, with the exception of media. It also has offices in London, New York and Sydney.

Kevin George, director of account services who will also head Scion, said the agency presented a campaign under the theme "global awareness." It has not been decided whether that theme will be used for the launch. He said Attik's creative pitch focused on youthful lifestyles, including young people's use of cell phones and the Internet in their search for "truth," which they perceive to come from their friends.

Fall pre-launch
He said Scion's prelaunch will start this fall.

Oasis President Rand Pearsall said his shop presented creative for the pitch, but is pleased the marketer "liked it enough to ask us to design the Web site." Oasis is considering adding several staffers to its one-person office for Toyota in California to create a small Scion-dedicated shop.

Scion's launch approach will apparently be similar to BMW of North America's campaign for its new Mini Cooper. The Mini is using non-traditional advertising, along with some national magazine ads, to create a buzz about the retro-looking, British-made sedan.

"Don't expect to see a lot of national advertising from us," Mr. Bolain said. Scion will take a low-key approach, using grass-roots marketing that is directly targeted and more viral than traditional media.

Toyota, like many automakers, is trying to be hipper and attract younger buyers. It will start selling two Scion models next June, but only in California for the first nine months before rolling it out to other regions. Toyota, which will later offer a third model, has projected Scion unit sales of 100,000 in 2005.

Sneak peek at model
Scion has already displayed a model at six California events this summer, either through its partnership with Urb magazine or consumer electronics maker Pioneer, which will supply the audio systems for the vehicles.

Toyota tried unsuccessfully to attract younger buyers in fall 1999 with the launch of the Echo.

"We're pretty good listeners," said Mr. Bolain, who prior had been on the marketer's so-called Genesis team that worked on the youth program. "In the past two years, we've gotten a lot more in touch with our target buyer."

Wes Brown, an analyst at consultancy Nextrend, said that based on what he has seen of the Scion, Toyota is on target and he expects the marketing will be innovative enough to reach the illusive Gen Y target.

"The obstacle is going to be no matter how good the marketing and the product, you've still got to go to a Toyota dealership and walk by the minivans and Camrys."

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Staff writer Alice Z. Cuneo contributed to this report.

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