The first quarter of 2015 is already trailing last year's tepid pace of 58,009 vehicles sold. Last month, no brand fell as much as Scion, with a 25 percent drop from year-earlier levels.
In the wake of the recession and shifting attitudes among Scion's core 18- to 34-year-old audience, Toyota can no longer count on the word-of-mouth tactics that fueled sales a decade ago.
With the iA and iM about to fill crucial holes in its lineup, Scion isn't taking any chances.
Murtha wouldn't specify how much Scion would be spending on the advertising campaign for the two cars, though he said it was not "Camry money."
Scion brought in the New York-based ad agency Droga5 as a "new set of eyes" to handle the launch advertising, Murtha said. The automaker will continue its existing relationship with California agency Attik for the rest of its campaigns.
As a course correction, Scion will rely more on TV ads than it has in the past. This is partly to broaden the brand's reach and partly as a concession to dealers who have been waiting out the drought of new Scion models.
"If you're not visible to dealers, the attitude is you're not spending enough money," Murtha said.
Traditional ads will help build the brand's identity, which is a bit murky right now, according to Jack Nerad, executive market analyst for KBB.com.
"I think Toyota has grasped that and it will be more specific about what Scion is going forward," Nerad said. "Its messaging will be more consistent."
The tone of Scion's advertising -- and vehicles -- will also reflect the evolution of its core audience, who were significantly affected by the recession.
The iA and iM are in response to buyers' growing desire for something practical.
A third model -- widely thought to be a compact crossover -- that is expected in concept form by the end of the year, will also lean more toward functional.