Toyota's Scion brand has a featured role in a movie entered in New York's Tribeca Film Festival this month.
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. is the presenting sponsor of the 22-minute movie On the D.L. The lighthearted docudrama follows a pair of thirty-something musicians in their quest for their first drivers' licenses in their native Philadelphia.
Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson of the Grammy-winning Roots Band co-stars in the movie with King Britt, formerly of Digable Planets. Scion's boxy xB and the xA coupe get seven minutes of screen time.
"We thought it was a fun way to have our vehicles in a film without the focus on us," says Brian Bolain, Scion national sales promotion manager.
Bolain said the movie was cheaper than a typical event sponsorship. The project cost roughly $100,000, says a source close to the production.
This month, film clips will appear on scion.com, with added content such as film outtakes and interviews with the co-stars.
Patrick Courrielche, managing director of the publicity firm Inform Ventures, headed the project.
Wes Brown, an auto analyst with the Los Angeles consulting firm Iceology, called Scion's strategy interesting. He says Toyota seeks to reach 25-year-old consumers who are "hip, on the edge and trendy."
Toyota launched Scion last June in California with two models. Sales began in February in New York and other states in the Northeast, Southeast and Southwest. Toyota reported U.S. Scion sales of 11,161 units in the first quarter.
Toyota spent $8.0 million in media advertising for Scion last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. The automaker used nontraditional methods to introduce the brand in California, such as skywriting and life-sized Scion sand sculptures.
Scion will start selling a third model, the tC coupe, this summer.
Jean Halliday is a staff reporter for Advertising Age, a sister publication to Automotive News.