Updated: Scion Reaches Out to Shops

NEW YORK Toyota Motor Sales USA has contacted outside agencies about its Scion brand via information requests that probe the shops’ capabilities in traditional, interactive and guerrilla marketing.

The query, which several full-service agencies received this week, is due back at the Torrance, Calif.-based client on Sept. 29. Based on responses, the company will cut to a smaller group of agencies that will receive proposal requests, according to the initial paperwork.

A Scion representative described the outreach as a “routine thing” because the brand uses numerous agencies to handle specialized creative projects. “We have that unbundled approach,” the rep said.

Scion’s lead creative agency is Attik in San Francisco. The rep said the process would not impact Attik, even though the RFI’s capabilities questions cover areas Attik currently handles.

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

Attik declined to comment.

The brand, whose primary target is young adults, is known for using unconventional marketing tactics, such as establishing a presence in virtual worlds, sponsoring dance music events and installing interactive billboards in urban markets. As such, its major media spending is relatively small compared to other automakers.

Last year, for example, such spending totaled nearly $30 million, about the same as in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence. The total through May of this year approached $10 million, per TNS.

In July, Scion launched a new campaign around the theme, “United by individuality.” The effort included a cinema ad, TV spots, print ads and billboards.

Attik, a digital and design shop, has handled the brand since its launch in 2003. Last fall, the agency was acquired by Dentsu America, another Toyota roster shop. Toyota’s lead agency in the U.S. is Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi in Torrance.

This story updates an earlier item with a response from the client and other details.