Toyota's Matrix Aims for MTV Crowd

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Toyota executives hope to appeal to college students and twentysomethings by offering the ability to edit music videos featuring its new Matrix vehicle online.


Toyota Motor Sales USA, Torrance, CA, is targeting first- and second-time car buyers ages 18-34 for its 2003 Toyota Matrix. The compact car, slated to be available in February, will be priced lower than the Camry to reach the younger demographic. Toyota will not list a retail price until January.


To reach this demographic, Toyota launched a StudioMatrix VideoMixer application Oct. 11 on Toyota.com and its youth-oriented Web site, IsthisToyota.com. The interactive, rich media application lets users, provided with audio tracks from top artists and video clips of the Matrix, create their own music videos.


"The car is sexy and well-priced for that market," said Adi Sideman, CEO of rich media technology firm Oddcast, New York, which developed the VideoMixer.


Consumers can post their videos on Toyota.com, save them or e-mail them to friends. Visitors to the site also can vote for the best video. Based on the number of votes received, the top 50 receive a $50 gift certificate from GetMusic.com. The person with the highest-rated video at the end of the contest Jan. 23 receives a 2003 Toyota Matrix.


Partners Launch.com, MP3.com, RollingStone.com, GetMusic.com and MuchMusic.com have incorporated the VideoMixer promotion into their sites so consumers can edit the videos without leaving the sites.


By Oct. 23, more than 96,000 (50 percent were repeat users) had created videos on Toyota.com and Isthistoyota.com. Meanwhile, 6,568 had registered, submitting their name, e-mail address and mailing address, to participate in the contest. Those who registered may choose not to enter the contest, but they agree to receive further information on the promotion.


By Oct. 23, 1,660 had posted their videos to be entered in the contest. And Toyota.com tracked 1,800 forwards of videos created (some users forwarded their videos to multiple people) by Oct. 25.


"That is the key element of the overall vision of this: that there would be some viral effects," said Kevin Higgins, national truck advertising manager for Toyota Motor Sales USA. "The more people who find out about the VideoMixer, find out about Matrix."


Online promotions targeting younger buyers are not new for Toyota, which created an internal youth-marketing group, Genesis, about two years ago.


"The strong effort ... targeted Echo, Celica and MR2 Spyder ... and one of the assets we created was IsThisToyota.com, kind of our youth-oriented Web site," Higgins said.


However, the VideoMixer application is probably the "most interactive online pre-launch activity we've engaged in so far," he said.


Toyota also has fueled interest in the VideoMixer sweepstakes through sponsorship of the Gravity Games, an extreme-sports event that is broadcast for six Sundays on NBC this fall. Promotions in conjunction with the sponsorship include on-site, online, broadcast and print efforts.


"We have them [consumers] coming in through a variety of sources, and we're filtering it all through the Web site," Higgins said.


Toyota also participated in theater advertising this fall, driving consumers to IsThisToyota.com.


To fuel continued interest in the Matrix, Toyota will e-mail those who opt in via the VideoMatrix sweepstakes registration forms on Toyota.com and IsThisToyota.com three times through Jan. 23.


"We will do one e-mail blast a month beginning in mid-November," Higgins said. The total number of consumers e-mailed will depend on how many opt in.


Web sites such as GetMusic and BET.com have successfully used Oddcast's VideoMixer technology for their promotions. Oddcast presents the interactive application as an alternative to traditional Web advertising.


"Nobody wants to see a banner that doesn't give you anything. People want more," Sideman said. "What these brands are doing more than anything is giving the users an experience that they enjoy. And they associate their brand not only with a cutting-edge, elegant experience, but also an entertaining experience."


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