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Attik to Launch Toyota's Scion

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Bypassing the agency it has worked with for more than 25 years, Toyota Motor Sales USA has selected the San Francisco office of U.K. boutique Attik to launch its youth-oriented Scion model.

Plans call for the car to be offered exclusively at Toyota dealerships in California beginning in June 2003, with a national rollout slated for a year later. A budget for the Scion introduction was undisclosed.

Although longtime Toyota shop Saatchi & Saatchi of Torrance, Calif., was among four finalists for the assignment, the company was eager to break from strategies used in the past. "We said let's try not to just say, 'Well, that's the way Toyota does things,' " said Brian Bolain, national manager for Scion.

Bolain added that hiring an outside shop should not be taken as a sign of a troubled relationship with Saatchi. Toyota "does not have any problems with Saatchi & Saatchi," he said.

The car maker started with nine agencies in the Scion review last spring, then narrowed the field to four finalists. Each was then asked to create ads for the Scion.

The Scion introduction is widely seen as a concerted effort to bring down Toyota's median consumer age of 45. Bolain noted that selecting a relatively unknown shop that focuses on marketing to younger consumers reflects Toyota's eagerness to reach a new market.

Kevin George, Attik's director of client services in San Francisco, said the shop's pitch reflected the mind-set of young people who are bombarded with marketing images. "We're not trying to show them what's cool," he said. "We're trying to echo back to them their lifestyle. They question everything."

George added that the work will reflect that mind-set and avoid a heavy-handed pitch. "They don't want a corporate focus, so we want to send the message that this is something worth investigating," he said.

George added that the Scion will be offered at retail in a "showroom within a showroom" that is designed to give the model an identity separate from other Toyota models. Among its features is a high-powered sound system developed in conjunction with Pioneer Electronics.

Attik opened its San Francisco office four years ago. It now has 20 staffers. George said the outpost's clients have included Sony PlayStation, MusicMatch MP3 software, Nike and Adidas.

Attik, which opened 16 years ago in Huddersfield, England, also has outposts in London, New York and Sydney, Australia.