Toyota drives interaction with Prius campaign using iPhone app

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Toyota drives interaction with Prius campaign using iPhone app
Toyota drives interaction with Prius campaign using iPhone app

Toyota Motor Sales USA has released an iPhone application to promote its 2010 model of the Toyota Prius hybrid, the third generation of the car.

The Prius Experience app features a video tour of the car and thorough interactive elements that let users draw an environment around it. Toyota launched the app partially because it believes Prius drivers are using Apple's smartphone.

"The Prius customer is an iPhone user, so it made sense to launch an application," said Doug Frisbie, national social media and marketing integration manager at Toyota. "A majority of visits to the mobile site came from the iPhone."

The app is tied to the Prius campaign "Harmony between Man, Nature and Machine," which was created for Toyota by its ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi LA, and launched in May. The creative for the iPhone application ties to the theme of creating harmony with nature and car. The ad campaign also includes social networking, events, digital programs, out-of-home installations, print and TV components. Toyota said earlier this year that it aims for sales of 180,000 Prius units next year, and 150,000 this year.

The application was created by mobile marketing agency Appssavvy. It has four modes, the first two of which rolled out last month. The first mode lets the user take a 360-degree tour of the Prius, while the second allows consumers to interact with print ads by taking a photo with their iPhone camera to bring the ad to life. The final two modes, which give users the ability to draw and play a video game, rolled out this month.

The draw function ties into an outdoor billboard in Times Square. Using the application, a consumer can use his or her iPhone to "draw" on the large interactive Reuters billboard. The idea is to integrate the mobile platform with the existing outdoor channel.

"You can draw a picture on the app and then have it posted to the Reuters billboard in Times Square," said Michael Burke, co-founder and president of Appssavvy.

To promote the app, Toyota is using both digital and offline channels.

"The struggle with building an application is always finding ways to promote it. If [Toyota] built an iPhone app without tying it to other channels, it would not resonate as well. Building an application made a lot of sense in this case, because there were automatic promotion channels that built into it."

The goal is to retain existing customers, as well as to get the word out to new ones.

"It appeals to existing customers who have a strong affinity with the Prius," added Frisbie. "The tour function applies to those who are not familiar with the vehicle."

The Experience App is featured on the Prius mobile site at m.toyota.com/prius, on the Prius Facebook fan site at www.facebook.com/prius and through mobile banners. In addition, the interactive billboard and the print ads call consumers to download the app to interact with the spots.

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