Creativity in Public Relations » toyota http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/ryanpeal Creativity, marketing, great ideas, smart thinking, public relations, insights, inspirations, innovations and more. (Formerly known as Ryan's View) Wed, 05 Aug 2009 00:52:54 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Starbucks, Toyota, Dell and Qantas Ask http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/ryanpeal/2009/06/17/starbucks-toyota-dell-and-qantas-ask/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/ryanpeal/2009/06/17/starbucks-toyota-dell-and-qantas-ask/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2009 01:18:45 +0000 Ryan Peal http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/ryanpeal/?p=621 Building relationships that last, that’s what brands are focusing on more and more these days as everyone thankfully has realized you can’t just keep selling, selling and selling to people.  Building relationships around value (versus buying) is a totally different way of doing business for a lot of brands.  A few brands are ahead of the game on this front, recently simply asking their customers “what do you think.”  Here are a few examples I’ve been watching lately:

IdeaStorm
.  This is where Dell asks people to join in on some crowd-sourcing of ideas on how Dell’s products or services can be improved.  The site has a great “promote” or “demote” functionality that moves ideas up and down the list on the home page, and a really simple navigation to view, post, vote or see ideas that have been offered by the community.

Why Not.  Toyota asks people to provide any idea, large or small, related to a few specific buckets of discussion (i.e., safety, water, land, air, community and energy).  It’s flash-heavy so takes some time to load but once there it’s a nice site to browse around.  The ability to add ideas is easy, as is the ability to browse other people’s ideas and to share with friends or to add to a personal commitment list.

My Starbucks Idea.  Similar to Dell, Starbucks simply asks fans to share, vote, discuss and see ideas that are all centered on making Starbucks a better place.  The site has great real-time lists of recent ideas and leader boards of people making comments.  The site has a nice explanation of what happens to the ideas once submitted – their team of “Idea Partners” review them and see where they could fit at Starbucks and presents them to decision makers who see how the ideas can be put to work.  Overall, a great “Q&A” for reference too.

All of Aus.  This campaign recently launched from Qantas, asking Australia what they love about Australia and showing all of the comments on a very cool designed site.  The plans are to turn the comments into a newspaper insert and some other yet to be unveiled ideas.  It doesn’t have the same “help us change the world” as the other campaigns but a good example of company trying something new to engage its fans.

Next time you are thinking of “what’s next” take a moment to review these and other similar campaigns, focusing on entertaining, engaging and having a conversation with your target audiences instead of selling, selling, selling.  You’ll have more fun in the process and your fans will start seeing you as a valued part of their world, not just someone who keeps asking for money.

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Toyota Turns Up The Volume With “Rock The Space” http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/ryanpeal/2009/05/25/toyota-turns-up-the-volume-with-%e2%80%9crock-the-space%e2%80%9d/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/ryanpeal/2009/05/25/toyota-turns-up-the-volume-with-%e2%80%9crock-the-space%e2%80%9d/#comments Mon, 25 May 2009 01:12:17 +0000 Ryan Peal http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/ryanpeal/?p=593 Providing a solid example of why MySpace still has a place in the marketing mix, Toyota unleashes “Rock The Space” – a competition for unsigned bands or solo singers to win fame and fortune in the form of a recording contract and massive exposure on MySpace.

The competition is pretty straight forward; bands submit an original MP3, design a demo tape on the site and submit their music.  In July MySpace Records will select five finalists and then members of MySpace will vote to select the winner.  In a nice twist, the finalists will be given an advertising budget to create and place banner ads on MySpace to help secure votes.  The winner will be announced in September and get premium placement on the MySpace Music Home Page.  The campaign complements Toyota’s ongoing effort on MySpace – “Toyota Tuesdays” – a day when the company gives away free downloads on its MySpace site.

I’m hoping/assuming Toyota has some street teams out and about raising awareness of the competition in bars and clubs where aspiring talent may be performing as well as malls and beaches and concerts where youth will naturally be out and about.  Outreach to music blogs and forums would also help drive awareness and traffic.

There also have been a number of artists that have been discovered on MySpace, including Colbie Caillat and Lily Allen.  It would have been great if Toyota was able to enlist the support of these gals or any of the other discovered talent to leverage in any media relations outreach – providing a credible ambassador for the campaign to highlight the reality of being discovered on MySpace.

Overall a good campaign to check out – simple, to the point, spot on with the audience and a solid incentive to motivate bands/artists hoping to make it big to start by rocking the space.

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Toyota Driving School For Teens http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/ryanpeal/2009/04/30/toyota-teens/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/ryanpeal/2009/04/30/toyota-teens/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2009 21:13:17 +0000 Ryan Peal http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/ryanpeal/?p=566 Back in the day I’m told they had student driving courses in high school, helping kids learn the rules of the road before they actually got out there to cause havoc.  Unfortunately due to budget cuts on multiple fronts most schools ditched their student driving programs a while ago.  Toyota, happily, has started to step in, introducing a teen driving program in Los Angeles (that hopefully will expand to other cities soon).  The effort positions Toyota with parents as a responsible company and with teens as a company that helps them get on the road faster with a Toyota/parent approved training program.

The program – Toyota Driving Expectations – is a four hour course held each month at the company’s California headquarters.  Both parents and teens participate in a combination of class lectures and behind the wheel activities.  The company focuses on defensive driving techniques (i.e., evasive lane maneuvers, dry/wet surface skidding, etc.), providing scenarios that hopefully most teens will never have to deal with, but ones that are hard to recreate on your own to practice.

Toyota brings in some of the big guns related to their multiple driving/racing sponsorships for some extra starpower/excitement.  And they provide a nice teen/parent driving contract that helps avoid some of the initial driving drama that normally comes up when teens hit the road.  And of course Toyota provides some amazing cars for the teens and parents to drive during the course – providing real-life opportunities for everyone to touch/feel/experience their amazing vehicles in a natural (non-sales focused) way.

The company has done a great job of providing a national element to the campaign, providing a “National Education Standards” program called the “Toyota Teen Driver” program.  Teachers can request to receive informational brochures with tips, worksheets, quizes and more.  While it doesn’t obviously bring the real-life and physical element to life it is a nice alternative.

I’m a big fan of this campaign mainly because Toyota identified a relevant, authentic need for an important audience segment (parents) and provided a real solution that doesn’t scream “and buy a Toyota” too.  Everyone sees how great the cars perform in challenging situations, reinforcing the positioning of the company as a safety-first organisation.  The limited availability of it makes those who attend feel extra special and ensures a “sold out” event every month.

A great example to consider when you are in need for a brand building (versus product) campaign that simply strives to help someone out in some way, give them something they really need or just make someone’s life a bit better.  If every company did more of this, just think how much better the world would be – and how bonded people would be to brands that first aim to help them out, knowing the “sales” part of the relationship will naturally come when the time is right.

And if you live in Los Angeles and have a teen driver, next week (May 4) is opening day to register for the next school.

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Toyota Asks “Why Not” – Inviting People To Share Innovation Ideas http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/ryanpeal/2009/02/02/toyota-asks-why-not-inviting-people-to-share-innovation-ideas/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/ryanpeal/2009/02/02/toyota-asks-why-not-inviting-people-to-share-innovation-ideas/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2009 07:57:15 +0000 Ryan Peal http://blogs2.hillandknowlton.com/ryanpeal/?p=420 Toyota launched a very cool campaign this week called “Why Not” — with the company simply asking all the smart people out there in the world (like you and me) to share your thoughts on ways to make theworld a better place.  A simple idea – you guys know stuff, tell us what you think we should do and who knows, maybe we’ll do it.  A great sublte positioning for Toyota as well – a type of “we’re all in this together” feeling.  The campaign is similar to an initiative President  Obama launched last year asking  people to submit their own ideas on how to make things better – both ideas grounded in human nature we all have to help each other out.

When you go to the campaign website you find a cool little island that you hover over, reading little blurbs about Toyota’s innovations (nice, natural way to position Toyota as a cool company doing lots of cool things).  To submit an idea you just click on a particular part of the island (air, land, safety, community, energy) and fill out a little form with your idea and that’s it.  While there you can see what other people have said – rate the idea, say you’ll commit to doing it yourself or send to a friend.  In each section you can read more about what Toyota is up to by doing some more reading or watching some very cool videos.

To motivate people to submit an idea Toyota is offering trips to meet with some cool innovators in New York City, or my personal favorite, a VIP tour of Toyota’s largest plan in the US in Georgetown, KY – right outside my hometown of Lexington, KY (this is the one you want to win).  You win based on originality and creativity, so you better bring your big game to this one.

For me I love this kind of campaign – Toyota isn’t trying to sell you a car, its trying to simply provide a voice for people out there who may have some great ideas but aren’t sure who to tell.  The company has a natural vehicle to toot its own horn as appropriate, and it doesn’t feel pushy or out of place at all.  This is the kind of campaign that shows how well Toyota understands how to be a part of a conversation, naturally connecting with consumers , building a deeper relationship with each.  It’s a great idea every company could think about doing in a similar fashion – having a convesation with their customers about topics of interest to them – and learning something along the way if the dialogue is set up right.

A big hats off to Toyota for providing this casual forum and exchange of ideas – I look forward to the next evolution of the campaign which I’m hoping will highlight some innovations people submitted that Toyota is bringing to life.

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