Young buyers increasingly critical to toyota efforts

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The Toyota division of Toyota Motor Sales USA is upping its ad budget this year vs. last mainly to support key launches for new or redone models.

Steve Sturm, VP-marketing at the division, would only say the increase is below 10%.

The brand spent $575 million in measured media last year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

Toyota has been on a roll. It launched ads for the redone Corolla small car and all-new Matrix sport wagon in February. Ads for the redone 2002-model Camry midsize car arrived last August.

The new models will help Toyota meet its own projections to sell more vehicles than last year. The marketer sold 1.5 million vehicles in 2001. In the first two months of 2002, Toyota says it sold 218,714 cars and trucks vs. 211,254 in the same period a year ago.

Toyota plans to continue the integration of ad themes for its vehicles across all media-traditional and non-traditional, much as it did with last year's Camry launch. "We're looking for the big idea and value," Mr. Sturm says. Toyota's main media partners for Camry were AOL Time Warner, Conde Nast Publications and Microsoft Corp.

Expect more co-branding efforts with Vivendi Universal's Universal Studios, he says. Toyota inked a long-term global partnership with Universal last summer. Most recently, Toyota advertised its Sienna minivan in a TV spot tied to the 20-year anniversary re-release of the movie "E.T.," with promotions at its dealerships. Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles, handles Toyota.

The marketer's Matrix is sponsoring an American Hi-Fi/SUM 41 concert tour this year via Universal Music Group. "Music is a big focus" of younger buyers, Mr. Sturm says.

Toyota will increase its efforts to attract younger buyers. The automaker introduced its new youth sub-brand Scion at the New York Auto Show in late March. Toyota has had mixed results in recent years trying to lure younger buyers with models like the Echo small car, MR2 sports car and Celica coupe. It's trying to repeat its 1970s success with wooing younger buyers and keeping them in the Toyota fold for decades. The Scion brand will have dedicated vehicles and is expected to have separate advertising. Toyota expects to name an agency for Scion in the next three months.

Toyota is working with its first African-American agency of record, Publicis Groupe-backed Burrell Communications Group, Chicago, for its first dedicated ad effort in late spring. The marketer held a review after public criticism last May.

While Camry's launch got a major chunk of Toyota's print effort last year, Toyota is evolving its print strategy in 2002 for all its models later this year. Mr. Sturm declined to offer specifics, but says publishers are preparing proposals that meet his request for integration and "big ideas."

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