In Scion Speak, Everyone’s a Designer

scion crest.jpg

Today’s big automotive news is that Ford has agreed to sell Jaguar and Land Rover (the “luxury safari brands,” as we like to call them) to India’s Tata Motors for $2.3 billion ($600 million of which Ford will have to pay back into the Jaguar and Land Rover pension funds). But while Ford is cashing in on storied brands and BMW is messing around with glow-in-the-dark ads, Toyota is putting the identity of its Scion car in the hands of, well, anyone. Scion Speak, a new campaign by ad firm StrawberryFrog, encourages website visitors to create their own snazzy coat of arms, which can be adorned with everything from a butterfly and a cupcake to handcuffs and a spermatozoal trio. Using the handy drop-down menus, we selected a name for our crest (pictured above): “Chancellor Designer The Wack.”

For maximum street cred, StrawberryFrog called in designer Tristan Eaton (perhaps best known for his covetable Kid Robot toys), who got to know the cultish Scion owners through nationwide focus groups. “Probably one of the most prominent incidents was driving in L.A. in a Scion and seeing another Scion pass us, honk the horn, and wave at us,” says Eaton. “At that point, I realized OK, these guys are their own culture.”

A recent New York Times article noted that some Scion owners download their crest creations and then have them airbrushed onto their cars, and this is nodded to in the website’s tattoo-like aesthetic. For StrawberryFrog, Scion Speak is all about “social marketing.” According to Kevin McKeon, executive creative director of StrawberryFrog in New York, the “wrong way” to deploy such a campaign is to “create an artificial social network and try to draw people to it. You have to walk into the conversation, and if they’re talking about Britney Spears, you can’t say, ‘By the way, do you want to hear about my new car?'” Instead, pull out a print out of your Scion Speak crest and query contemplatively, “What are your thoughts on that, Chancellor Designer The Wack?”