Scion Wisdom: Be True To Who You Are, Less Is More

You don’t often see brands cutting back because they’re becoming massively popular, even if massively popular is inconsistent with the brand identity. Well, Toyota’s Scion did just that, reports the WSJ:

Scion, Toyota Motor Corp.’s youth-focused small-car brand, has decided it is too hot for its own good.

The brand is on track to beat its 150,000-car-a-year sales goal by 25,000 vehicles in 2006. That is a big reason why Toyota has surpassed DaimlerChrysler AG this year to become the No. 3 auto maker in the U.S. in sales.

But instead of riding that momentum to increase sales still further, Scion plans to throttle back production to keep sales from going above 150,000 vehicles next year. It is part of marketing strategy to keep the brand special and, above all, cool.

And being “cool” also means looking beyond television.

To better position it as an "underground" brand, Scion over the past year has reduced its television advertising — never very significant to begin with — to a narrow range of late-night and obscure programs, like shows on Cartoon Network’s late-night "Adult Swim" programming…Now it is re-evaluating that strategy and may completely get rid of television advertising so it can focus more on experiential marketing, including event marketing and branded entertainment.

Simon Needham, co-founder of Scion’s agency ATTIK, says that in today’s digital-recorder age, traditional television commercials aren’t very effective and are even less so with Scion’s target audience. "I literally TiVo everything so I don’t even watch my own commercials," he says.

Scion also underscores that the advertising medium is the message. So if you want to be “up to the moment,” you have to be in places that are just that:

Scion is so concerned about being up to the moment and beyond that it has moved its online social-networking marketing focus from to because it viewed the News Corp. property as too mainstream.

In the end, the Scion itself has become a medium and an accessory, one which fans want to place themselves in, and identify with.

Most Scion buyers customize their vehicles…and many of the dealer’s customers come to the store once a month to purchase a new after-market product such as body-side graphics and roof racks for snowboards or bikes.

Even the Scion’s own marketing story – its behind-the-scenes actions described in this story – resonate with the brand identity. Lesson: understand who you are, and be true to who you are.


Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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