Toyota-Plays-Game-Of-Life-For-PriusToyota is doing something that (it’s fair to say) few, if any, automakers have tried: the Torrance, Calif.-based U.S. sales arm of the company is introducing its newest Prius car to Gen Y consumers by explaining to them the dealership experience. Say what? Isn’t that like using a Taser to get a date? The idea is that since these consumers have probably never entered the labyrinth of new-car buying, they might need help, and they are likely to listen to it if it comes in the form of dryly humorous, straight talk.
Since Toyota is pitching the Prius c to “transitional Millennials,” those who are moving into job and marriage responsibilities as well as acquisition mode, the campaign also borrows its motif from the Milton Bradley game that was huge before they were born: Life.
The campaign, “The Game of Life” via long-time AOR Saatchi & Saatchi, L.A., manages to deliver the dealership pill in a coating of tasty, inspired creative direction, and especially casting, writing and music. The storyboards somehow manage to get across the jaded Gen Y zeitgeist without making the dealership experience something you look forward to about as much as, well, getting an electric shock.
Life, which is now a Hasbro brand, is about to get its own relaunch in digital form.
The new Prius c compact is central to all of the creative, which comprises both long and short videos. Some of the videos, which live online, are focused entirely on the dealership experience, and some focus entirely on Prius c vehicle attributes.
The former have Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” talking metaphorically about things like regenerative braking. The dealership tutorials, on things like financial planning and, yes, dealership paperwork feature an actor whose delivery is drier than the Dead Sea scrolls, and a lot funnier. Not that the Dead Sea scrolls aren’t funny.
Not only is the media strategy pretty much entirely digital and social, but Toyota got YouTube to do something new for the campaign in creating a branded page that is entirely redesigned for the Life motif and a Google Maps mash-up that compiles driving history to help with decisions to lease or buy.
The launch video shows Gen Y people competing in an updated version, real-life take on the game, which involves facing and solving life’s challenges: a player’s dog is depressed and needs acupuncture; another player fails horribly in his effort to make sushi.
“I wanted to see someone completely unexpected who delivers in content,” says Bill Roden, creative director of Saatchi L.A. “We knew he was right when he walked into the room in terms of his body language and demeanor. [the target] sees itself as funny, and sophisticated. They get inside humor, don’t take things too seriously. They dress well but aren’t trying hard.”
He tells Marketing Daily that the media strategy reflects a target that really doesn’t have time for traditional advertising. “They won’t go on a scavenger hunt; they don’t play lots of online games. But they really like to watch videos online and share them. They don’t have cable, they spend time on Hulu.” He says the company is, in fact, negotiating to run the videos as pre-roll on Hulu. “I know it’s a cliche, but it’s the right content, right consumer and right channel.”
The automaker is doing digital takeovers and ads to drive consumers to the new YouTube branded video channel. Toyota and Saatchi & Saatchi worked with YouTube’s development team to create the new channel.
“It has been a scramble to build this, but the target has probably never even been to a car site.” He says the new channel includes a custom car configurator that was created to be a complete surprise. “These consumers probably don’t know you can configure a vehicle. So what we created was a theatrical car configurator with a Cirque Du Soleil feel.”
In the configurator, launching later this month, instead of the usual palette of color options and accessories, dancers and acrobats depict the vehicle and its components, a tactic that Toyota has used in Prius ads in recent months to depict flowering landscapes and — in one case — a giant person.