Was it a shrewd marketing maneuver, or just plain old good-natured frat-house pranksmanship? When Toyota unveiled the new generation of its big-volume Camry sedan last week, it found that the word "Camry" had been acquired on social media service Twitter by rival Nissan North America.
Anyone who searched Twitter for information about the redesigned Camry during the launch received instead a tweet of product news from rival Nissan.
On learning that Toyota intended to launch the Camry with special attention to Twitter, Nissan marketing managers discovered that the key word Camry had not been locked up. Nissan purchased what Twitter terms a "Promoted Tweet," acquiring a selection of search terms for 24 hours that included "Camry," "Toyota Camry" and "mid-sized car."
"Toyota blew it," crowed one Nissan manager. "They simply didn't protect their intellectual property."
Nissan is looking for every inch of ground it can get against Toyota's segment-leading sedan. U.S. sales of Nissan's Altima are up more than 18 percent through July, compared with a decline of 8 percent for the Camry, due in large part by inventory problems resulting from the March 11 Japan earthquake. The Camry still far outsells the Altima, but Nissan has narrowed the gap in recent years.