Customer-oriented event marketing gets less than 1 percent of the overall marketing budget at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. But one event that made the cut is the National Geographic 'Great Adventurers' lecture series, which Toyota began sponsoring last fall.
Toyota invites 240,000 Toyota Land Cruiser owners and National Geographic subscribers to the lecture series, which features well-known filmmakers and photographers of the great outdoors.
Toyota became involved with National Geographic through Dereck and Beverly Joubert of South Africa, the world-famous wildlife filmmakers and speakers on the 'Great Adventurers' series. The Jouberts, who have been taking Land Cruisers into jungles for more than 20 years, wrote Toyota about their experience with the Land Cruiser and asked how they could work together.
Todd Ferguson, merchandising manager at Toyota, was intrigued.
'The real issue with the series is not to drive incremental sales of our products,' Ferguson says. 'We want to show Toyota Land Cruiser as a citizen of the world and make Land Cruiser owners feel good about owning a Land Cruiser.'
The lectures are held in eight U.S. markets. The spring series includes Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The fall series covers Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Washington, D.C.
Each attendee must pay between $10 and $15, depending on the market. The vast majority of the proceeds go to the National Geographic Exploration Council.