1. Brilliant commentary on how terrible Toyota’s idea is. The most glaring thing for me, beyond pitting 5 hapless agencies against each other, is the dissonance in Toyota’s branding/ messaging…have they ever heard of the saying, ‘Too many cooks…’?

    It still is sinking though – I really cannot imagine the kind of desperation that drove Toyota to do something like this! If you are able to check what each agency finally did, please do post your views on that too – could be a good lesson on the kind of takeaway this messy task delivers.

  2. I agree with you and all, but I do love the @werewolfinyaris idea. Cheesy, you but very cool.

    Having said that your right about Toyota not understanding social media.

    Bad Toyota.

  3. Great insight. Some companies put priority in return on sales and budget instead of building long term relationships. For car manufacturers, this would seem logical to get a quick buck now because customer loyalty in car brands do not exist nowadays. A buyer of a Toyota Yaris may end up buying a Ford Mustang the next year. It is the car model not the brand that attracts people. The brand gives the sense of security though.

  4. Laurel said: “Unfortunately though, it’s the members of online communities that are the prey, and the hounds have been let loose”

    Do you feel like prey? Really?

    My first reaction, as a consumer, was to see if I could catch a ride home on Saturday with Wolfie.

    1. Yeah I think the agencies on the whole have done well tho Wolfie is the 3rd ‘Jump In My Car’ social networking campaign for Australia that Ive seen this year. Tho come to think of it the user gen ad with no community voting wasn’t brilliantly innovative – do you want kids creating $30,000+ ads for agencies for $7000? this type of comp works only after community has been built.

      I don’t have a problem with ‘stunts’ but I run them at about stage 7 of community building, not stage 1.

  5. It’s incredibly shallow, isn’t it?

    I agree that in standard media, this would be a tasty stand-off for the best idea to win. But in a social space, where, duh, it’s about people (and dare I say, the former audience), where is the desire to meet, talk with and have a longer engagement with more meaningful onflow (such as recommendations, people really liking their Yaris’ and talking about it, etc.).

    Toyota, as you point out, should have done a lot more ground work before jumping in this way. It’s a big, ugly stunt, even if some of the ideas have legs.

    It’s almost the antithesis of what Ford are up to with Fiesta Movement.

  6. What baffles me the most is that Toyota seem to be doing a relatively good job with Facebook & Twitter:

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/toyota.aus
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/Toyota_AUS

    Sure, their approach is more broadcast than you’d probably like Laurel, but they have built relatively vibrant communities around their brand. So if they wanted more social activity around the Yaris, why not simply create a similar presence for the model (much like Ford does in the US).

    By the way – you’ll probably get a giggle from the Facebook comments for the ‘Werewolf in Yaris’ post on their fan page. Extremely interesting to see how the consumers are perceiving this activity. Bemused seems to sum it up…

    1. I hear you James – and I thought about some of their other campaigns a lot. In particular, were the Fan pages large volumes of people brought in by social ads? Or “true” engagement and what is “true engagement”.

      I quite like some of the ideas that came out of the agencies – nothing startling original but a little tongue in cheek and fun.

      Still, I feel a bit like someone who says “My fave ad on telly is…” AND “I hate ads on telly”. Can we do both? Can we quite like a social media stunt – Werewolf is cute – and yet in general not like the way Toyota went about selling our collective community souls? Did TV sell our souls by giving us pseudo entertaining ads?

      Juries out I guess, but an interesting discussion anyway, here (thankyou!) and on Twitter. 🙂

      1. I think it is possible to appreciate both the stunt approach and the ongoing engagement approach. The trick is to know when each is relevant. For me, the stunt is relevant when the brand is weak or the product is new (artificial buzz needs to be created). The Toyota Yaris fits neither of these scenarios.

        Ironically, that $75K would have gone a long way towards employing a proficient community manager (for a year) to foster ongoing engagement not just around Yaris, but their other vehicles as well.

        Not sure they’ll have a lot to show at the end with the chosen investment of the funds, which is a criticism directed at Toyota rather than the agencies (who are in an almost impossible position to deliver).

  7. That’s appalling of Toyota to do that.. what a shame they really don’t understand the whole point of Social Media, and decided to just cut their budget and run a cut throat contest amongst agencies. A real shame, if you ask me ;(

  8. A lot of interesting discussion here.

    I’m not really a Yaris kind of bloke (lusted after Audi for too long to turn back now), but recently I went for a ride with the Warewolf taxi and was pretty surprised with how myself and 3 others could cram into it.

    As I said, Its not on my shopping list, but I have since rethought my opinion of the little car.

    BTW did anyone else think Rupert Murdoch’s comments over the weekend were a little upside down?

  9. Unfortunately, it seems Toyota can rely on the competitive urge of the agencies involved to get away with this puerile and sadly well-established practice.
    That is, the practice of conducting a beauty parade that wastes an inordinate amount of senior (agency) people’s time, where the reward (money) bears no resemblance to the risk (time spent).
    The industry needs to turn this around, come together and refuse to work on briefs constructed like this.
    I know, and pigs might fly.
    But firing a blunderbuss as Toyota has – asking all and sundry to pitch on a minute budget and insufficient time – only reveals the sad truth truth about the client: that it is incapable of constructing a decent brief and operating with focus.
    Whether by refusing to take on projects like this or by other means (eg creating conversations like this one that SilkCharm’s started), Toyota and anyone else that behaves this way need to feel some pain if practices are going to change.
    And that pain has a name: reputation risk.
    Even if the marketing department puts its own ambitions, arse-covering and self-aggrandizement ahead of reputation, the boss won’t.

  10. Well said Laurel particularly in the face of all the agency abuse you are getting on Mumbrella. The lack of sophistication of this ‘social media’ campaign is embarrassing to say the least. If this was something set up by the Gruen Transfer and critically examined and satirised I would have laughed. Most successful campaigns (and good social media) require humour and if they were prepared to take the piss out of themselves they’d have more success. There’s certainly more of an appetite at the moment for satirical humour around the advertising process so why not approach this brief with real honesty?

  11. Hey Laurel, first you castigate companies for not ‘experimenting’ and then when Toyota only throws $100,000 at a test project you castigate them for doing it wrong……..

    I think it’s cool that Toyota are trying something innovative, and sure i think Yaris cars suck and nothing would make me buy one….. doesn’t mean something cool isn’t going to happen from one of them.

    Personally i love the One Green Bean concept, i think it should be run for more than just one night….maybe something like you find the car via a mobile web app and you get to keep the keys as long as you are driving it, once you “drop the keys” someone else gets to take the car to where they want…..would be a great example of Toyota reliability having the car on the road for 24x7x30 days etc.

    1. Actually dean, I’ve never castigated companies for not experimenting in social media. In fact I have a blog post called “Social media is NOT an experiment”. Certainly the kind of “experiment” where agencies are unleashed on social networks that ignore the very fabric of the community… yuck.

      Nothing they’ve done is innovative. 3rd “jump in my car” in the last 6 months. Trent Reznor did the “drop the USB stick” thing years ago.

      I don’t have a problem with campaigns/stunts/short term events. I don’t even a problem with what the agencies came up with -some ideas were better than others. I do have a problem with Toyota treating communities as bones to be fault over and using it as part of the publicity. And I do have a problem with campaigns that are outside of an overall “social media strategy” – and no, creating a fan page on Facebook, Twitter account and then saying “do stuff so it’s buzzy” is not a strategy.

  12. Short term profit/”move the metal” thinking from both client and agency…I’m glad not only the brand, but also the agencies are exposed. Selfrespect includes a bare minimum of strategic thinking over campaigns that you agree to set-up. Otherwise; just say no 🙂

  13. Laurel,

    Well written post about this abominable video from Toy-oh-what-a-crap-spot-ta.

    Whilst I have major issues with the scenario of a father endorsing his daughter’s deflowering (Toyota doh!), the point must be made that this is NOT a social media experiment. It’s an agency pissing competition, and the Toyota Yaris is the “urinal” upon which the pissing is being done.

    At the end of a year in which the marketing industry has seen Kraft and Westpac battle it out to be the worst PR disaster of 2009, along comes Toyota out the back of the pack to win this ignominious trophy. I suggest if you feel strongly about this issue, then vote for Toyota at http://prdisasters.com/worst-pr-disasters-2009-call-for-entries/.

  14. Laurel:

    Great post! Companies are certainly struggling to understand that the ROI from social media isn’t necessarily immediate. This is a prime example.

    Keep up the great work.


    Erik Qualman
    Author of #1 Best Selling Socialnomics

  15. It’s going to take awhile for those traditional spend and measure (immediate) to get used to how things works in a medium (if ever).

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