Update: Inside Scion’s RFI

The request for information that Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. issued last week on its Scion brand asks about experience in youth-orientated marketing as well as “unconventional viral” or “guerrilla” marketing.

As such, Scion appears to be hewing to its non-traditional roots. Since its launch in 2003, the young adult-skewing brand has heartily embraced the Internet, with, for example, a presence in virtual worlds and its own broadband video site. Scion also has forged connections to music by sponsoring concerts. Even its choice of San Francisco design and digital shop Attik to handle lead duties was unconventional.

On Friday, a Scion representative characterized the outreach as a “routine thing for Scion because we work with so many vendors all the time. We have that unbundled approach.”

The rep added that “Attik is always going to be the agency of record. But we still work with other vendors on a case-by-case basis.”

That said, the RFI asks for capabilities in traditional advertising and interactive marketing-areas that Attik, a unit of Dentsu America, now work in. Attik, which has handled Scion since its launch, declined to comment.

Responses to the 12-page RFI, which also asks for basic information about agency resources, are due back to the Torrance, Calif., client on Sept. 29. It was not clear how many RFIs Toyota distributed, but, based on replies, the automaker will cut to a “manageable number” of agencies that will receive a more detailed request for proposals. The RFI did not provide a time line for completing the process.

Attik’s most recent campaign launched in July and included a cinema ad, billboards, TV spots and print ads. The theme of the effort is, “United by individuality.”

Annual major media spending on the brand has hovered around $30 million since 2006 and totaled nearly $10 million in the first five months of 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence. The high-water mark historically was in 2004, when media spending exceeded $60 million, per TNS.

Scion’s review comes amid mixed sales results for its various models.

In the first eight months of 2008, sales of Scion’s xB grew 23 percent from the same period last year, to 35,633 units, according to Car Concepts in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Sales of the tC, however, plunged 29 percent for the same comparable period, to 33,001 units, per Car Concepts. Scion’s other major model, the xD, just launched last year and through August had sold 20,974 units. All told, Scion’s sales grew 3 percent through August, from about 87,000 to 90,000 units. –with Gregory Solman