Toyota Dangles Social Element For Prius

Toyota’s launch campaign for the 2010 Prius includes an unusual media channel that links community-centric social media to gas-pump television.

“Prius Neighborhood” centers on consumer-generated content with a local flavor running through October on Gas Station TV (GSTV), comprising pump-top TV screens at 13 national gasoline retail chains in 100 markets. In addition to ad content, the TVs carry news and entertainment segments from CBS, sports from ESPN and updates from AccuWeather.

Toyota will tout Prius with 15- and 30-second ads on GSTV, but the more integrated element — the neighborhood part — is TV segments directing consumers filling their cars to visit http://event.gstv.com, where they can upload content on local happenings. The submissions are reviewed, put in rotation, and become searchable by ZIP code on the Web site.

The events are also posted to regional Twitter pages @GSTVevents, and to the “Prius Neighborhood” area on Toyota’s Facebook page, where people can also post events, view posted events, interact with others and link to the event submission page through a custom-developed Prius Neighborhood application.

Doug Frisbie, Toyota national media manager, tells Marketing Daily that gas-pump television is, for several reasons, an ideal platform to talk about Prius.

“Certainly, the time at pump is a period where there aren’t other things to focus on, so it’s a good time to provide people with ad content but also with unique content about their communities,” he says. “And all our research about the Prius consumer shows they are active in their communities; they want to connect with other people. Thirdly, the Prius’ advantage is that it gets 50 miles per gallon, and finally, with this launch we are trying to extend the Prius to be a car for everyone, and this program reaches a million people per day.”

He says that while there is not direct dealership tie-in on the Facebook site, “one benefit of connecting social media with GSTV is [that] there is natural path to the lower part of purchase funnel: One could see the event listings on GSTV, then go to Facebook, submit events in their area, become a friend of Prius and find a local dealer in their areas, so it’s more connected than in traditional media.”

Toyota’s effort aligns with the broader Prius ad and marketing campaign which carries the theme, “Harmony between man, nature and machine.” In addition to traditional ads, it includes other place-specific efforts: installations of solar panels on bus shelters in cities like Los Angeles and Boston, and flower-shaped installations with built-in recharging stations for personal devices.