LOS ANGELES Three 15-second spots for Toyota's Scion use animation and cartoon imagery to emphasize customization of the youth-oriented brand. All spots broke Monday through independent Attik.
"Scion now offers over a hundred accessories, which is phenomenal for any car company," said Simon Needham, co-founder, group creative director of the San Francisco agency. "More to the point, the campaign intends to inspire and present aspirational images for people to do cool stuff with their cars and personalize them.
"We all want to sell cars, but we're not doing it in conventional ways," Needham added. "We want to leave people feeling like the brand is more about what they're about."
All three 15-second spots show basic models of the Scion being made over into special editions that would be more appealing to the "tuner" crowd, who often add decals and other third-party parts to customize their rides.
Needham said the anime imagery derives from a print campaign Attik produced last year, and that developing one of the spots for Web use prompted the client to order more for broadcast. Needham, who has directed about half of Scion's spots to date, said the animation is a collaboration between Shilo Design and the agency.
In one spot, set against a white, pencil-drawn environment, a Scion comes up against a huge cartoon bulldog with a spiked collar. The dog chews on the Scion xB, then spits it out. The car sports tooth decals around its grill.
In a second spot, a flaming devil woman pops up from a burning trash can. She scorches the Scion tC, which is left with tribal flame decals and other details.
In the third spot, a mini version of the alien machine from War of the Worlds hurtles towards earth in a fireball and converts a gray Scion xA into a metallic blue version with a sport package. Attik collaborated with Curious Pictures and director Stefan Nadleman on this ad.
Needham said the creative impetus behind the singularity of the spots is to suit the brand. In the past, spots bore the personal styles of directors like Mark Romanek. "Our ethos is definitely an approach that does individualize some of our marketing," Needham said. "We want young people to look at what we do and make their own decision about whether they have a positive feeling of the brand. Part of the strategy is to retain individualism in every way in."
New spots breaking in June are in post-production now, Needham said. All were directed by Needham and shot in Bangkok, Thailand, for "an Asian vibe." Three 30-second ads will be cut into two different 60-second versions. The latter will break initially in movie theaters.
Needham declined to comment on the influence Scion marketing may have had on Toyota's Yaris campaign [Adweek Online, April 24], though Toyota's agency, Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, has acknowledged meeting with the Scion team to clearly differentiate the two youth-directed vehicles. Yaris spots also use animation and cheeky humor.
Toyota, Torrance, Calif., spent $50 million advertising the Scion division in 2005 and $10 million through March 2006, down 34 percent over the same period last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.
Scion sold 10,500 xA models through April 2006, up 22 percent over 2005, per Car Concepts, Thousand Oaks, Calif. The xB sold 18,500, up 1 percent, and the tC sold 22,500 units, up 4 percent.