Toyota Motor Sales USA's youth-marketing unit, Genesis Group, is breaking its first advertising in a $25 million-plus push.
TV ads from Saatchi & Saatchi, Torrance, Calif., began airing last week with "Revolution," an 45-second spot showing the new Echo subcompact, the redesigned Celica sport coupe and the MR2 Spyder, a sporty two-seater due in dealerships next spring. Individual campaigns for the Echo and Celica debut Oct. 14.
James Press, exec VP at Toyota, said the company needs to attract young car buyers to avoid the struggles of other baby-boomer brands like Levi's and Nike. But the automaker believes it can do so without turning off the boomers who bought 429,575 Camrys last year.
"This change in the demographic is to bring in a new stream, but not to change the whole river," Mr. Press said. "The reality is that young people don't want to drive a car that has an old person's image, but older people will drive a car with a younger person's image."
TRYING TO LOWER AVERAGE AGE
Toyota wants to lower its average buyer age from the current 45 to about 35, he said.
"Revolution" broke Sept. 22 and will run through Oct. 14. It shows a young man walking through a futuristic building in the opposite direction of business-suited throngs, then plugging his boom box into the building's sound system. It closes by saying, "Every revolution begins with a single act of defiance. We have three," as it shows the three cars.
Toyota plans to air the spot more than 200 times on youth-oriented cable, including VH-1, Comedy Central and USA Network. Four-page inserts will run in auto-enthusiast and consumer magazines, including Allure, AutoWeek, Car & Driver, Details, Entertainment Weekly, GQ and Rolling Stone.
Echo's three 30-second spots tout features like the $9,995 list price, fuel economy and the roomy interior "designed from the inside out."
The pragmatic selling points are similar to those that attracted the original flock of boomers to Toyota's Corolla in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mr. Press said.
"The importance of the subcompact market, entry-level, isn't just volume," he said. "How many people who are driving Camrys today drove '68 Corollas?"
Echo spots will appear on prime-time broadcast TV and cable, as well as spot buys, through mid-December. Shows will include "Felicity," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "The Simpsons," and NFL football. Echo ads also will appear in 15 magazines, with radio and outdoor support.
The new Celica, with a base price of $16,700, targets young males who are "all about the thrill," said Mark Del Rosso, Genesis Group manager.
The two 30-second Celica spots show the vehicle racing through a desolate Western landscape with four fighter jets in formation overhead. They will run on youth-oriented programs and sports. Media will include "Dawson's Creek," "Party of Five," "Futurama," NBA and NCAA basketball, and NFL football. Radio and outdoor are also planned.
Other Genesis buys will include Internet radio, sponsorship of alternative sports like the Gravity Games and Web ads, Mr. Del Rosso said. A new youth-oriented Web site (www.isthistoyota.com) will debut Oct. 1, using music and video with little text.
Copyright September 1999, Crain Communications Inc.