Toyota’s Yaris Social Media Campaign Off to Rocky Start

10 11 2009

I found this video originally from Laurel Papworth’s article where she lambastes Toyota for taking a shot-gun approach to social media marketing in the Australia market. They’ve given five agencies $15k AUD each to see what they can do with social in a “winner-take-all” contest.

Papworth correctly calls them on trying to take a strategy that would work with traditional advertising firms and platforms and make it work with social media. The mistake in this is that the online medium is far less unforgiving than print, radio, TV or even basic banner ads. If Toyota’s agencies don’t tread lightly (which in this case means treading with sincerity, humility and appropriate tone), they stand to do more damage than good to their online brand, largely due to the backlash that appears to have already begun by the people they know doubt had the intention of influencing.

I believe that the intensity of Papworth’s criticism stem from a correct assumption that Toyota underestimates the unique challenge of creating a successful social media brand as well how big a role strategy plays. And because of the fact that she and other bloggers certainly do appreciate these challenges because they’ve done it for themselves – they’ve done the social media equivalent of pounding on doors to build/maintain their following and brand. Toyota’s shotgun approach unavoidably comes off as a bad simplification of the strategy, responsibility and work that goes into the process. I would imagine that the agencies are a bit more ahead of the game than their client; they likely realize the challenges, but they don’t have a much of a choice (it’s Toyota after all) but to try and put their best foot forward and fake it until they make it.
toyota-yaris-2009

The irony in all of the stir that’s been created is that none of it would likely have occurred if Toyota had, instead of awarding $75k across 5 agencies, simply awarded a single agency with a $25k test budget. I would argue that as far as actual results are concerned, they would likely have achieved the same relative level of impact but it would be significantly easier to digest the results and also determine appropriate next steps/investment. I do feel badly for the poor Toyota soul that was involved in pitching this. He or she no doubt had sincere intentions of wanting to lead the brand into this space in the “right” way, and may now be forced to answer questions about some of the unintended buzz that has already been created.

Follow Laurel Papworth on Twitter.

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