Toyota tries snap-and-send marketing

Last Updated: Wed, Aug 24, 2011 04:22 hrs

Toyota is adopting interactive bar codes across all its marketing so mobile phone-carrying customers can quickly access sales promotions, vehicle quotes, videos, safety tips and similar information.

With the new ToyoTag, a logo inside a ring, Toyota says customers — potential and otherwise — can snap the image and receive product-related content and other company information using either a standard mobile phone or a smartphone. Those with iPhones or Android devices can download a SnapTag reader to receive Toyota’s content.

“The ToyoTag allows customers to engage with us wherever and whenever they want information,” said Michael K. Nelson, interactive communications marketing manager for Toyota. The new tag, he said, will provide one-to-one interactions with customers at all stages of interest in its products.

The company, which is creating its ToyoTag marketing in house, teamed up with SpyderLynk, a Denver a mobile marketing technology provider. In 2008, SpyderLynk introduced the SnapTag, which uses 2-D mobile bar code technology, and the company customizes the tag’s look and content for each client.

Coke, Bud Light and the Marines have all experimented with SnapTags. By chance, Mr. Nelson came across the tag last year as Toyota began exploring a comprehensive mobile marketing program.

“I was watching football one Sunday last fall,” said Nelson, “and I saw the SnapTag being used in a Bud Light commercial. I knew right away that we could brand it.”

Although some studies predict that about half of the American public will own smartphones by the end of 2011, Nelson said he did not want to ignore the other half “that don’t want to shell out for a smartphone.”

“That’s why SnapTag was perfect for us,” he said.

Nelson said he contacted SpyderLynk the next morning, and worked with them to use the SnapTag technology to create a logo in which the center of the ring is swapped out depending on what Toyota is trying to convey. For example, to rebut some of the negative publicity it received from braking problems on some models, Toyota placed a ToyoTag in some newspapers to direct people to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site to read the government’s report on the issue and Toyota’s response.

Toyota also has experimented with the ringed logos by including them at auto shows so phone users could learn more about its prepaid maintenance plan.

After evaluating these initiatives, Toyota worked with Saatchi & Saatchi, part of the Publicis Groupe, this spring to redesign the interactive logo, and this week announced its rollout for the ToyoTag.

Toyota’s first step will be expanding its ringed logos across social media, at this summer’s action-sports Dew Tour, by sponsoring a best-athlete voting contest as well as a scavenger hunt where participants who snap a tag receive a video response from a tour celebrity.

Most companies that have tested two-dimensional codes in advertising have yet to embrace such tag marketing, opting instead to experiment with one-off campaigns.

©2011 The New York
Times News Service

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