Don't look for Scion ads in mainstream magazines. Instead, try such titles as XLR8R and Beautiful Decay.
Scion, the youth brand of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., advertises in 15 to 30 lifestyle magazines a month. Most of them are obscure and cover the arts, music or pop culture.
Nontraditional titles make up 75 percent of Scion's magazine ad buys, says Dawn Ahmed, Scion's national marketing communications manager.
Always on the lookout
"We are always on the lookout for new magazines that appeal" to Scion consumers, Ahmed says. "We will continue to focus our efforts on smaller publications that fit well with the essence of the Scion brand."
Scion defines its long-term U.S. customer base as Generation Y - those born between 1980 and 1994. By 2010, about 63 million Generation Y members will have reached driving age. They are expected to rival baby boomers in purchasing power.
Scion marketers have mapped the lifestyle habits of these young buyers, including their reading preferences. Such consumers generally don't read traditional magazines, including automotive buff books, Scion says.
Brian Bolain, Scion's national sales promotion manager, says ads in online and print magazines that address the eclectic lifestyles of its target buyers help Scion connect with those consumers. "This (approach) is important not only from the perspective of the media we buy, but also the editorial content that we provide these outlets," Bolain says.
A magazine advertisement for Scion promotes a limited-edition version of the xB.
"It gives them a chance to cover a car company," he adds, "but from a perspective that is meaningful to their readers, such as music, film, art."
Toyota launched Scion in California in mid-2003. It completed its nationwide vehicle launches in July. Scion's lineup consists of the xA wagon, tC coupe and the xB SUV.
Toyota spent $59.8 million in 2004 to advertise Scion vehicles, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.
Scion spent $12.2 million on magazine advertising last year. A chief competitor, BMW AG's Mini brand, spent $17.0 million on magazine ads in 2004.
This month, Scion is introducing a special-edition badged series of its vehicles at two-thirds of Toyota's 1,200 U.S. dealerships.
Scion placed ads for accessorized versions of the vehicles in 15 magazines as gatefold covers and on interior and back gatefold pages.
The Scion xB Release Series 2.0, painted bright yellow, appears on the gatefold cover of the magazines. An interior-page ad features two tCs racing toward a finish line. The supercharged tC crosses first. The xA occupies the back cover.
Scion marketers believe its nonmainstream approach to advertising in magazines and other media has helped attract buyers who normally would not shop Toyota.
Almost 90 percent of Scion owners are new to Toyota. Scion buyers cross-shop brands such as Honda, Mazda, Volkswagen and Mini, Toyota marketers say.
Scion sold 99,259 vehicles in the United States in 2004. It sold 19,117 units in the first two months of 2005. Scion forecasts sales of 120,000 vehicles this year.
Gary Stein, a senior analyst at Jupiter Research in San Francisco, says Scion is building street credibility with its approach to magazine advertising.
"If they are successful at making the world think that Scion is perceived as cool by the cool kids, they know that everyone else will want to buy in," Stein says. "It's almost more important for people to know that Scion is advertising in these niche spots than it is for them to actually see the ads.
"It's hard to get street cred doing a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal," Stein says. "Scion knows this."