Scion bets on interactive game for tC launch

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Scion bets on interactive game for tC launch
Scion bets on interactive game for tC launch

Scion is planning to unleash a full-scale marketing plan this fall for the rollout of its 2011 Scion tC sports coupe. However, the Toyota-owned brand will turn to an online interactive game to garner early buzz.

Beginning June 1, the “Unlock the tC Road Trip Game” will allow players to make a virtual cross-country trip while winning daily prizes, picking up points through virtual “tCoins” currency and competing for the main prize: a 2011 Scion tC.

The competition will run for eight weeks, culminating with a real-world faceoff between finalists at a yet-to-be determined Los Angeles event. Each week, the game will reveal a new “road,” or travel option, for players to score points.

Dawn Ahmed, corporate manager at Scion, says the brand emphasizes nontraditional marketing tactics to appeal to its target audience of 18- to 24-year-old males. In fact, nontraditional tactics make up the bulk of its marketing, she said.

“This game fits into our approach,” Ahmed said. “We think it's a great place to build our momentum… Then we'll come out with a full-scale marketing campaign.”

E-mail, social media, PR outreach, point-of-sale signage at dealers and some online advertising supported the launch of the game. Traditional advertising will also support the car's fall launch.

The brand provided an early look at the game to a group of 3,000 of its most engaged customers in its gated Scion City online community. Scion e-mailed an early registration option to these customers, and 500 registered on the first day, said Emily Yamamoto, part of the Scion interactive marketing team. About 1,500 had pre-registered by May 26.

The game's registration form collects data including location, phone and e-mail and asks if the registrant wants to opt-in to hearing from a dealer or receiving Scion product information. Yamamoto said 45% of early registrants opted in to receive product information, and 10% opted in to follow up from a dealer.

“It's one of the sticky ways we can engage our direct marketing group,” Yamamoto said of the exclusive early registration offer. “The response rate was quite high.”

Scion expects to send an additional e-mail blast to the more than 100,000 registered users of its website on June 1.

Scion is also encouraging users to log in through Facebook Connect and urge their friends to play as well. Players are rewarded with additional points for every player they recruit. The four players with the highest scores at the end of the eight weeks will be in contention for the final prize. Customization options, such as changing the color of the Scion you're driving or adding accessories, also earn points.

A number of agencies worked on the game concept. Haley Miranda Group developed the contest and website; American Pop is assisting on the social media campaign; Beyond Marketing Group will develop the closing event; and Rogers & Cowan handled PR.

This year continues to be a difficult economic environment for auto companies. Research by Morgan & Company of West Olive, MI, shows that US sales volume for the Scion tC fell 23% in April year-over-year. Across its brands, Scion US sales volume fell about 40% during the last 12 months, according to the Morgan & Co. data.

Ahmed noted that this is “clearly an important launch” for Scion. However, the company expects the tC to continue to be a “volume brand,” and combined with the launch of the new iQ model, the company remains optimistic. After a difficult two years, “We're going to see sales significantly grow,” she said.

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