Scion built its reputation as a brand for influential young consumers and the hip-hop underground culture. Now Scion is entering the music business.
The youth brand of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. is promoting unsigned bands by paying for the recording and production of their music. Toyota distributes the vinyl records free to college disc jockeys, clubs and radio stations across the county under the name Scion A/V.
Scion won't own the master recordings, which will remain the bands' property.
"We're not making a profit from this," says Jeri Yoshizu, Scion's sales promotion manager. Scion's goal, she says, is "to extend the brand and create a new marketing initiative. We are marketing Scion as a lifestyle brand."
The music connection is logical for Scion, which sold 99,259 vehicles in the United States last year. Its target buyers are consumers in their 20s and 30s, college educated and predominantly male.
Scion has lined up two bands to record on vinyl. It will review their success before it decides whether to expand the program.
Scion has produced and given away 10 compact discs of compilations featuring young amateur musicians. The two bands Scion has recorded on vinyl can create their own compact discs for sale.
Yoshizu heard the first group - the 60-piece hip-hop orchestra Dakar - in Los Angeles. Scion has used several of the group's singles on the brand's CDs.
Scion's second vinyl record - from New York duo Junk Science - arrives this month. Scion discovered the band when the group won an online rap contest sponsored by the automaker. The pair won a music video that Scion produced and will help distribute.
Asked about the recording program, Tom Healey, who directs the advertising practice at J.D. Power and Associates, says: "I don't think at this stage of the game it's wise to second-guess Toyota."
Scion's marketing programs have elevated talented amateur musicians, artists and fashion designers to more commercial exploits. Yoshizu says Scion has had "heavy discussions" about how it will adapt when today's underground becomes tomorrow's mainstream.
Adds Yoshizu: "We will be evolving to the next thing in a couple of years."