Attik come through

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Toyota Motor Co. stunned the industry when it named Attik, a little-known graphic design shop-cum-advertising agency, to handle Scion.

Attik launched Scion based on a personalization strategy it developed through Taxi, its in-house research operation. Taxi relies on a group of trend-watching youth who communicate primarily via e-mail and are compensated through perks such as concert admission or products.

"It's like paying people [for] research," said Will Travis, president of Attik USA and one of three partners in the company. "We find people who can give information about emerging trends."

One of Taxi's findings was that young consumers look to make a personal statement with their purchases. With that in mind, Attik's Scion launch focused on personalizing the vehicles. Priced in the range of $13,000 to $14,000, the Scion comes with as many as 40 accessories, ranging from 18-inch racing wheels to illuminated cup holders. Customers can configure cars online.

Scion launched with a guerrilla-marketing effort by posting signs with lines such as "No Clone Zone," "Rage Against Beige," "Ban Normality" and the campaign tagline, "What Moves You." Cars were placed on college campuses and outside late-night raves. The campaign began in California and will next roll out to 20 major markets.

Dawn Ahmed, national marketing communications manager for Scion, said Toyota is happy with with Attik's "design aesthetic" and strategic thinking. "They understand Scion," she said.

The Scion win was a boon for Attik, founded in 1986. Its "studios"-in Huddersfield, England; London; New York; San Francisco; and Sydney, Australia-were struggling following the dot-com collapse and subsequent recession. Attik, which bills itself as a "brand-navigation company," employs 160 people, with about 23 in San Francisco, down from 63 a few years ago.

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