The international Social Media Award Show – The Bees Awards – is every week sharing some great social media marketing cases in their Newsletter. This week’s case is Toyota Sponsafier and it is made by Saathci and Saathci LA.
NASCAR fans have long pledged their allegiance to the American-made cars that dominate the tracks. In order to grow the brand, Toyota needed to start appealing to this audience. But simply winning races isn’t enough. Toyota had to find a way to get these import-resistant fans to actually interact with their vehicles.
Toyota’s long-time fan tracking study showed that NASCAR fans are heavily involved with social media. Nothing proved this better than witnessing the fan support when Kenny Wallace lost his ride for the Montreal race. Word got out online that if each fan donated $20, they could get Kenny back in the race. 5,000 people became his “sponsors”. That told Toyota they could interact with the fans online, but the pay-off had to be something juicy. Why be just 1/5,000th of a fan; why not have your very own car.
What they did
Toyota Sponsafier became a NASCAR-themed site at toyotaracing.com that allowed participants to design their own race Camry. Graphic elements were made available or participants could upload their own to design in 3D. But the most exciting part was the contest extension. The winning design would become the Grand Marshall car at the Charlotte race. Fans would post their entries on the site, but what really took off was their involvement of sharing their designs on Facebook and Twitter in order to drum up votes for their Camry from among their friends.
– Over 9,900,000 page views were recorded
– 101,000 fans submitted designs
– 150,000 signed-up to become registered users of toyotaracing.com
– 857,000 total shares
– Over 1.3 million fans voted
So popular was this effort that a second contest was introduced to coincide with NASCAR’s “Chase for the Cup” that will culminate this season with the last race in Homestead.
Why I think this is a great case besides the obvious numbers
The Japanese brand facing the challenge of getting to the heart of fans at something as American as NASCAR is what I would call a very tough challenge for Toyota. But what better way is there to do it than involving the actual fans by offering the tribe surrounding the sport with a co-creation opportunity? It’s simple and easy to share, it’s not the first time we have seen it, but it’s still brilliant and shows there is a formula for success: namely, listen to the fans and get tem involved.
What is really clever and no doubt will be a great gain in the future for Toyota is that this campaign will move a generation – and that’s the young and next generation of NASCAR fans. Designing your own car online is a great father and son project, a kid get to design his own car with his father. Oh yes! Are you aware of the impact the blockbuster movie CARS has on this generation – I think you do. Will this generation grow up thinking about Toyota as a Japanese brand – not likely!
Could Toyota want anything more?
Back to the challenge – and now back to season 2 of the Sponsofier project.
The heart of America lies in the American dream and this really comes out in season 2, where the winners were Jeff Hallowell and his soon Ethan. In 2002, Jeff was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and today he is in a wheel chair only communicating with the world through eye tracking computer technology tools.
Well, I need you to click here to see the video that is the American dream and story – this is how a brand touches the die hard fans of NASCAR and becomes part of the American way of dreaming and living!
Is it pure luck to touch down on a story and a winner like that? Absolutely not! Toyota asked real people, involved real life and that’s where the real stories are. This is the essence and great possibilities of social media.
An idea to take it further
In the land of possibilities and all the marketing resources, one thing they could have done to take it even further would be to develop a social game – maybe on the Facebook platform. It would have been so cool for the fans designing the cars to have a chance to compete against each other in an online game. Social games is something that we will no doubt see a lot of in the future, especially from bold and edgy companies and brands.
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