Thursday, December 15, 2011

Toyota builds brand image trough augmented reality, computer generated pop star and QR codes

Emarketer presents in their newsletter today a case study from Toyota, that shows how QR codes and augmented reality can get you on the road to success!

In May 2011, Toyota launched a campaign for the 2012 Corolla targeting an Asian-American audience. The campaign was based around a computer-generated pop star called Hatsune Miku. Working with interTrend, Toyota’s Asian-American agency, Toyota developed a campaign that would feature the new Corolla and also introduce the Japanese virtual icon to the US market. In addition to sponsoring a US Hatsune Miku concert, Toyota created a mobile program complete with 2-D barcode and augmented reality technology that drove traffic to the car company’s website and social media properties.

Toyota worked with a QR code vendor to develop a branded mobile barcode, ToyoTag. It also worked with an augmented reality technology company to develop content that would be engaging and appealing to the younger, tech-savvy Corolla target audience. In addition to appealing to this group of potential Hatsune Miku fans, the goal was to make campaign shareable.

In coordination with the September 16, 2011, Hatsune Miku concert in California, Toyota debuted the Hatsune Miku augmented reality experience. To view the augmented reality content, Toyota encouraged consumers to use their mobile phones, snap photos of the ToyoTag, and then, upon prompting by SMS text, download the Toyota Shopping Tool app for iPhone or Android. Then consumers were able to view Hatsune singing on a virtual stage alongside the 2012 Corolla. Part of the strategy was to “extend the engagement past the event,” Nelson said.

Toyota significantly increased app downloads, traffic and leads for the Corolla during the week of the augmented reality launch.

On the night of the Hatsune Miku event and the augmented reality launch, Toyota saw a 600% percent increase in Toyota Shopping Tool app downloads. After the first night's spike, app downloads continued to outperform normal download rates throughout the week. Additionally, Corolla leads jumped by 30% that week, and time spent on the one Corolla/Miku web page outpaced time spent on the entire Corolla section of (including customization tools, pricing pages and demo videos).

Week-over-week traffic for Corolla/Miku from September 4 to 11 increased 167%. After seven full weeks, it returned to pre-Hatsune Miku campaign levels.

What can we as market strategists learn from this? I believe this kind of activity can help the brand stand out alongside German technology driven cars by, pushing the idea that Japanese cars are more fun and the front runners, looking for new ways of doing things, following digital trends. Even if not many in the target will download the app or use it, everyone will notice that Toyota is definitely not an old fashioned or dull car. 

But even if the short term result is fantastic, with 600% and 167% growth sounding pretty impressive, the medium term results are average. The campaign is like a nice bouquet of flowers that eventually will dry out and tossed in the bin. After 7 weeks, the web traffic returned to pre-Hatsune Miku campaign levels, the article tells us.

I am not saying a brand shouldn´t step out in the unknown and do wicked unexpected and experimental things. You need to market on a lot of levels if you wish to be with the consumer from awareness to purchase and then around the wheel again. Not all of your activities will lead to both awareness and loyalty; not all of your dollars will be spent on directly reaching your bulls-eye demographics. Sometimes a brand needs to do something cutting edge to surprise and tell us a little bit about what it believes in.

It´s like in dating: we all want the good guy who is stable and nice, caring, fun and intelligent – but if he is only and always “good” he will be plain and boring. There needs to be some kind of twist to the mix. An unexpected hobby, a flaw or a dark secret. 

How do you apply this to your brands?

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