Scoring the ‘Perfect 10’ for Toyota’s biggest sales model
The Toyota Yaris is Toyota’s most important model in Europe, in 2019 1 in 4 Toyota’s sold was a Yaris. Being the brand’s best known nameplate means the Yaris brand disproportionately impacts overall brand perceptions thanks to the large number of Yaris’ on the road every day. In 2019, Our brief was to launch Yaris’ fifth generation. A pivotal car to Toyota’s success in Europe which had been 7 years in the making, but one that had to overcome a range of challenges that meant success was by no means guaranteed:
- A highly competitive, well established yet declining segment
- A category of aging, fiercely loyal buyers who research suggested ‘always bought the same’
- The unprecedented barriers that Covid-19 presented the global auto market
- Stale model perception as a ‘boring, dull car for grannies’ and ‘a worthy hybrid’ with younger, affluent buyers
Despite these challenges, Toyota set some highly ambitious objectives.
- Increase market share of Yaris in B-Segment by 1%
- Move Toyota from 7th into the Top 5 best-selling B-Segment cars
- Increase purchase intent for Yaris
o Car Configurations (+10%)
o Test Drives (+20%)
- Increase consideration of Yaris with a younger buying audience (Under 35s)
o Increase proportion of Yaris product page visitors under 35 (+10%)
The Creative Solution
We knew this audience wasn’t excited by particular features of the car, but instead the sense of unstoppable energy that previous generations lacked. Yaris was reborn not just physically, but spiritually.
As the Yaris Hybrid is self-charging – it can recharge without being plugged in – it has an ever-bountiful supply of that new vibrant ‘hybrid’ optimism, which we called Yaris’ ‘Positive Energy’.
Our audience also diversed significantly to the traditional target for car advertising. On exposing them to competitive creative work, it quickly became clear the familiar tropes of car communications would fail to engage them. The ads that feature generically good-looking people driving round cities, who found the car magnetic, before they drive off into the sunset, simply weren’t going to work.
We decided to shun the usual cliches depicted in familiar scenes. Instead, we found someone representative of, and aspirational to, our target audience, but who also perfectly embodied the car itself. A captivating human metaphor for the positive energy of Yaris. We knew what we wanted to say, but how should we say it?
The perfect candidate to bring the spirit of the car to life was Katelyn Ohashi, superstar gymnast and our metaphor for the cars’ new-found positive energy, the Yaris in human form. Everything about her story resonated with the one we wanted to tell. Katelyn had become globally famous through her viral ‘Perfect 10’ floor routine that took the internet by storm in 2019, and she helped us to inject the optimism, positivity and energy into the Yaris our audience were looking for.
The campaign centres on Katelyn performing a specially choreographed ‘Perfect 10’ routine which sees her infectious energy transform the moods and moments of others going about their day.
The film culminates in the seamless transformation of Katelyn into the Yaris as the lights change and the car pulls away. We summarised our creative idea with an inviting line that best captures Katelyn and the Yaris’ positive energy: ‘When you have the energy to keep going, why stop?’.
The Media/Content Amplification Solution
In the past, campaigns had been created TV first with digital as an afterthought, but for this audience we knew digital could easily be the beginning, middle and end of the purchase journey. The media experience needed to be deliverable as snippets of thumb-stopping content that could appear throughout an integrated channel plan, with enough flexibility to meet a range of city dwelling lifestyles. Media had to work just as hard in our in-feed formats as it did in high impact broadcast, always with the ability to land a message in seconds.
Working closely with our creative department we built a modular suite of assets that were shot to be sufficiently epic, and able to live in short or long-format environments – a short, sharp burst of positive energy. This allowed us to create a fully integrated campaign that worked well in every channel and format, was single-minded to the message of ‘Positive Energy’, and 100% visually integrated.
Delivering against this approach was made even more challenging as the Covid-19 pandemic forced most markets to re-plan their campaigns around the dramatically shifted consumption habits across Europe. The original decision to plan towards a more digital consumer meant teams were highly adaptable to this hurdle, leveraging these channels to absorb spend from physical press & OOH, and diverting media euros into video forward, high-impact digital.
The sequential approach to messaging (perfectly suited to digital storytelling), and the modular, digital-ready asset structure allowed for an extremely agile response to an auto market that was in free-fall across the globe
A short, social media driven pre-launch phase-built intrigue and gave consumers a glimpse of a new choreography that Katelyn was working on, whilst hinting at the partnership with Toyota and Yaris. This element leaned heavily on the earned power of her fan network, fuelling speculation that something exciting was coming.
The full launch, centred around her new routine, prioritised reach in highly emotive AV environments. The hero film was foundational in establishing the link with Katelyn, as well as inspiring a bounty of eye-catching digital content, but all markets were encouraged to expand on this core campaign with their own, locally relevant, partnership content.
For performance channels like CRM and digital display, the focus was entirely on converting prospects. Cost efficiency was the core driver of channel selection, prioritising messaging of product features, and mirroring their benefits with relevant moments from Katelyn’s routine.
We set out to increase Yaris’ market share by 1% because this would put it into the Top 5 sellers in the B-segment. In the end, the campaign helped increase Yaris’ market share to an all-time high of 7.8%, a full 1.6% increase. And rather than Top 5, this placed Yaris at 3rd place in the B-segment – another record broken.
Ultimately, Yaris didn’t just take the B-segment by storm, it took the European car market by storm:
- In November 2020, Yaris was the second best-selling car in any category in Europe, and No1 in the B-segment.
- In January 2021, Yaris was the best-selling car in Europe, full stop. This was a first not just for Toyota, but for any Japanese manufacturer.
This was made all the more impressive when compared to a suffering European car market, where most models were seeing year-on-year sales shrinkage of between 20 and 25 percent.
During the short time this campaign has been live (since Sept 2020), we estimate €1.43 prot was generated for every €1 spent on media. However, Ebiquity has shown long-term payback to be up to 2.4x higher in the long-term, so this could potentially grow to become €3.43 profit per €1 media spend. (N.B. Toyota do not release official figures on per model profit margins).
We had set clear targets for the increase in purchase behaviours required to meet our market share growth and the campaign over-delivered on all of them:
- Car Configurations increased +13% vs 10% target
- Test Drives increased +32% vs 20% target
We were also able to increase consideration of Yaris with our under 35s target customer, increasing the number of visitors to the Yaris webpage who were aged between 18-35 to by 27670 year-on-year.