New Toyota Prius push?looks to reach masses

Toyota and its AOR  LA are launching a nationwide, integrated campaign to promote the new, third-generation Toyota Prius. With the new push, the carmaker hopes to reach a more mass audience than previous Prius generations.?

The campaign, which works under the tagline “Harmony between man, nature and machine,” includes social networking, events, digital programs, out-of-home installations, print and TV. Toyota is aiming for sales of 180,000 Prius units in 2010; this year’s goal is 150,000.?

“The idea for this campaign… came from the vehicle itself,” said Mike McKay, Saatchi LA executive creative director. “Nature gets lower emissions, and man gets a bigger vehicle. From that, we set off to find ways of articulating that that were as innovative as the vehicle itself.”?

The campaign retains a key Prius psychographic, which Toyota national media manager Doug Frisbie described as “very active people.”?

“They consume lots of different media, which is why we needed a very diverse, stimulating campaign to support the launch,” he said. “The core target is very imaginative people, and they are also very well-connected, leaders in the community that operate large social networks.”?

Social media, including Facebook and Twitter, will play a much larger role in this Prius campaign. Previously, Prius’ Facebook presence was relegated to 200 or so fan sites created by enthusiasts. The car will now have its own fan page where the brand can communicate directly to users, who also can communicate with each other. Toyota also is creating online tools, such as a carbon emissions calculator, to further engage fans.?

“This campaign, specifically in the social space, is an ongoing effort, so a lot of planning is going into various elements to make we’re sure putting something out there that is going to be conversation-worthy,” said Uwe Gutschow, director of interactive strategy, Saatchi LA. “It’s about opening up channels for customer conversations with the brand.”?

The social networking tools will roll out over the course of the summer. ?

Toyota also is reaching out to online consumers with events, which invited bloggers to get a first look at the new Prius earlier this year, and it will officially kick off its digital initiatives with homepage takeovers of MSN on May 28 and Yahoo on June 15. There’s also a Prius microsite on, a mobile Web site, banners and custom programs.?

This July, temporary “Harmony Installations” promoting Prius will go up in key US cities, such as Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. Some will be oversized flower sculptures, offering free Wi-Fi, seating and recharging hubs for laptops and phones. The stations will be solar-powered. Solar ventilation bus shelters, which mimic the solar panels on a Prius’ roof, also will be installed in select locations.?

“With the outdoor installations, we wanted people to experience the benefits of the vehicle, so the solar cooling stations are really a product demo,” McKay said. “We’re trying to reach people in a Prius sort of way, giving them a little something to engage with rather than just talking at them.”

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