Initially, Internet was perceived as a kind of extension of traditional advertising— most websites were deemed as mere on-line presence which occasionally directed people to telephone or call into an office. Only a handful of “futurists” had the imagination to recognize the interactive possibilities of the Internet. The possibility of on-line interaction is what makes the Internet different from any marketing platform that has gone before. Consumers have been quick to flock to online forums and blogs to express their opinions of products, services and brands, yet businesses have done relatively little to encourage or influence this.

When Toyota launched the new Auris in Greece, Ogilvy created aurisblog.gr to generate social footprint for the launch. They also identified a number of regular Greek bloggers and gave them each a car to test drive for a week. Quite obviously, the bloggers posted the their findings on their respective blogs.

While the social media marketing part of the campaign focused on bloggers. Toyota re-enforced their marketing by running a banner campaign which propagated “Test-drive Auris and win a weekend in Greece with the Auris at your disposal”.

The illustration below shows how Toyota converged their offline marketing with internet marketing to create a buzz around the new Auris car. As you can see the campaign starts with word of mouth marketing which is then supported by outdoor campaigns, print media, TV commercials and then the social web.
Internet Marketing Toyota

As a result their convergence strategy Toyota achieved the following:

  • 15 bloggers drove the car after careful selection process out of the 85 that requested it.
  • 55 posts were written. Most with photos and videos.
  • 175 comments were posted on the Auris blog, and more on the participating blogs.
  • 41,000 unique visitors came to the Auris blogs, for a total of 52,000 visits.
  • 2,000 test-drive requests were submitted by the general public.

Things you should consider before embarking on a similar marketing strategy:

  • This could potentially be a very risky strategy. What are the chances of bloggers disliking your product or service? How would you deal with negative publicity?
  • Have a stringent qualifying process to make sure you identify the influential bloggers correctly.
  • For a successful outcome focus on even the tiniest details of the product/service you are offering the bloggers for review. For example, in Toyota’s case I am sure they would have considered having different “new car” interior scents for male and female bloggers.
  • What are your targets and how are you going to monitor them.