Toyota Debuts Online Game for Yaris

LOS ANGELES Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi has unveiled banner ads for the Toyota Yaris that include an interactive game allowing multiple players to control dueling vehicles.

The game allows challenges between Web players (all within the space of the banner ads) in the heckling, mischievous “Spy vs. Spy” narrative style of the agency’s previously launched commercials for the client, said Peter Kang, the shop’s director of interactive and emerging technologies.

Saatchi worked closely on the project with Adobe and Macromedia.

UGO, C/Net’s Gamespot, MP3.com, IGN’s Gamespy, IGN, Ask Men, Real.com, AOL Music Channel, Yahoo and ABC.com all carry the ads. The game will continue indefinitely, Kang said.

“We were looking for a big innovative step to connect people in real time through a banner,” said Kang. “The whole idea is that we want people to touch this car, and we’ll do it any way we can.”

Although interactivity within banner ads has been achieved before (such as a recent Whiskas cat food effort), multiplayer executions of this type were previously unknown, Kang said.

Beyond the measurable activity, the game promotes Yaris by subtly demonstrating vehicle attributes at every turn. “Everything you do inside the game is about the features of the car, and it ties into the Web site and to different city maps. Most importantly, this is an example of Toyota and Saatchi L.A.’s partnership moving forward,” he said.

Torrance, Calif.-based Toyota spent more than $300 million on domestic advertising through April 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.