At first, there doesn’t seem to be much of a correlation between the 2011 Toyota Corolla and Hatsune Miku.
It isn’t just that Miku isn’t a car—she’s a teal-tressed pop star who happens to be virtual. There’s also the fact that Miku is a soprano and the Corolla’s singing on the road … isn’t exactly classified that way.
But when Toyota decided to take the plunge into creating an omnipresent mobile campaign marrying these two compact entities on the virtual stage, the duo started to make more sense. Both had the same audience that wanted to see them perform. And they both did see them perform—as evidenced by the results reported by Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
The first day consumers could see Miku sing and dance with her favorite car, downloads of the free software necessary to view the 3D holographic images—the Toyota Shopping Tool App—increased by more than 600 percent, says Michael K. Nelson, senior digital marketing manager of digital marketing and social media in the Toyota Division. That was on Sept. 16, 2011, during the “MikuScape” party at Royal/T Café in Culver City, Calif. And by the next weekend, downloads had risen to 700 percent above pre-MikuScape levels. Nelson says, “We had a 25 percent increase in leads that very same week.”
That one success, though, wasn’t the entire reason Toyota executives decided to invest time and money in 2D mobile code technology. About a year ago, Nelson says Toyota moved away from the QR Codes created by its subsidiary—Denso Wave—and moved heavily into “ToyoTags” for mobile marketing efforts because the more picture-like, more eye-pleasing SnapTags from Denver-based SpyderLynk solved three issues for Toyota: brandability, flexibility and reach.
Since then, ToyoTags—featuring, for instance, Prius images and text inside a car tire—have been included in many campaigns. Consumers take pictures of the ToyoTag in order to receive text, video or another Toyota-related experience.
“The whole point is, if you provide engaging content, your consumers will come,” Nelson says. “If you don’t have anything engaging, then you shouldn’t have anything. … With ToyoTag, we’ve been in over 80 campaigns. But we just don’t throw them around haphazardly. If they need to be the star of the show, they’ll be center stage. If they need to be more supportive, they’ll do that. If they don’t need to be there at all, they won’t be there at all.
“But, for the most part, we believe that anything that we have on print could hold a ToyoTag,” he continues, “and that includes a brochure [or] a window sticker. And I call it the bridge that connects traditional to digital media.”
Zero to 80 in a Year
Nelson says Toyota started using ToyoTags for a couple of reasons: consumers were beginning to use mobile technology more heavily, and Toyota had a lot of information to share in that channel.
“The challenge that we had,” says Nelson, was “‘How do we make use of the, literally, hundreds of hours of videotape? Or the photos that we have of the 17-, 18-plus vehicles that we have?'”
Originally, Toyota salespeople were the main downloaders of the iTunes videos, because the media were meant to be used for training. But now, consumers interested in a Prius, for example, can watch any of hundreds of videos on iTunes.
“The first video of that whole series for a vehicle is the overview video,” Nelson says. “And it’s about five minutes long, which is entirely too long for a consumer or anybody to sit through.”
So Toyota segments that video into five different one-minute films that spotlight areas of the car like the interior or exterior, explains Nelson. Toyota then uses that footage as content on its mobile properties. “What’s great about this is that we repurpose everything at Toyota,” he says. “We want to make sure that we get the biggest bang out of the buck, and ToyoTag helps us realize that.”