4 Media Shops Chase Nontraditional Scion Launch

LOS ANGELEs—Toyota Motor Sales USA has ruled out the established West Coast media agencies in its hunt for a shop to handle the unique demands—and modest budget—of its Scion launch, sources said.

The media review, which is being coordinated by Albert & Associates of Redondo Beach, Calif., has been narrowed to four undisclosed shops that specialize in guerrilla, viral and other nontraditional marketing methods, sources said. Michael Albert, the consultant handling the review, declined to comment.

The media search comes less than four months after the client awarded the creative portion of the account to San Francisco boutique Attik after a review. In doing so, Toyota opted to bypass Saatchi & Saatchi of Torrance, Calif., which has handled creative and media for Toyota for more than 25 years.

Although anticipated spending has not been disclosed, the Scion budget is likely to be only a tiny fraction of the amount typically spent on a car launch. In addition to the nontraditional methods that will be employed to reach the 18-24 target audience, the geographical focus is unusual, too: For the first year after its introduction next June, the car will be available only in California.

The limited introduction is in keeping with a strategy aimed at positioning the Scion as distinct and separate from the established Toyota line, whose buyers have a median age of 45. The futuristic-looking hatchback, which includes a high-powered sound system developed by Pioneer Electronics, will be offered by Toyota dealers using a “showroom within a showroom.”

Kevin George, managing director of client services for Attik, said the entire approach to the Scion launch has been to steer clear of traditional marketing approaches that would likely fall flat with the target audience. “The whole objective of the [campaign] is to create an underground buzz about this car,” said George, who noted that his shop is not involved in the media review.