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Volume 21 No. 6
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NASCAR playing key role in Toyota’s marketing around new Camry

NASCAR is playing a key role in Toyota’s marketing around its redesigned Camry.

What started in January, when Toyota President Akio Toyoda joined Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin on stage at the Detroit International Auto Show to reveal the 2018 Camry, shifts into high gear Sept. 1 as a new marketing campaign officially begins.

It was the first time Toyota debuted a passenger car with a NASCAR race car simultaneously since it came into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2007. Toyota uses the Camry in the Monster Energy Series and Xfinity Series, while it uses the Tundra in the Camping World Truck Series.

Drivers Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin help introduce the 2018 Camry at the Detroit International Auto Show.
Courtesy of: TOYOTA RACING
“We thought the cadence was just perfectly aligned to really marry up NASCAR and the production launch of the Camry,” said Lisa Materazzo, Toyota’s vice president of vehicle marketing and communications.

Lou Garate, NASCAR’s vice president of partnership marketing, said it was Toyota’s idea to unveil its new street and race versions of the Camry at the same time. Garate said Toyota’s racing arm, Toyota Racing Development, had as great an impact on the design of the production vehicle as he’s seen during his decade-long run working for the sanctioning body.

“That’s really rare — those guys work in a vault usually,” Garate said of racing divisions of auto manufacturers. “They helped on the front-end aerodynamics, and that’s just unprecedented.”

Toyota has long marketed the Americanization of the brand in NASCAR. While the company is based in Japan, it manufactures models such as the Camry in the United States. Its North American headquarters is in Plano, Texas.

The new campaign, dubbed “Sensations,” will include advertising across television, digital, out-of-home, social, print, radio and in-cinema platforms, including spots during NASCAR programming. There will be eight TV spots, including some targeting specific demographics, and Materazzo hinted that NASCAR would be involved in some of the creative. Toyota already has been running on-screen graphics in recent weeks during NBC Sports’ race coverage that show a cartoon car labeled as the new Camry. Toyota will also have versions of the new Camry at the track for fans to see in person.

Between at-track, team and media marketing, Toyota is activating heavily in NASCAR. It has naming rights to one of the five “injector” entrances at Daytona International Speedway, activates at 75 percent of the sport’s race weekends, and has cross-promoted the sport with its new deals in the Olympics.

Neil Howard, vice president and group director for MKTG’s consulting and execution work for Toyota, said he has seen greater acceptance of the brand firsthand as he’s traveled the circuit over the years helping run the manufacturer’s typically 20,000-square-foot at-track activation.

“The research is one thing, but I can see it and I can hear it at the racetrack,” Howard said. “By virtue of being at track, engaging with fans and raising their experience level, we’ve been able to really raise the level of consideration and engagement with those fans where they now consider Toyota from a purchase perspective.”

MKTG is Toyota’s motorsports agency. Saatchi & Saatchi helped develop the “Sensations” campaign for the general market, while Toyota worked with three agencies to target specific demographics: Burrell Communications (African-American); Conill Advertising (Hispanic); and interTrend Communications (Asian).