Toyota: launching the C-HR with the world's first immersive driving adventure

Toyota: launching the C-HR with the world's first immersive driving adventure

The Department took home the Best Automotive Content Marketing Strategy/Campaign award at The Drum Content Awards 2017 for its work alongside Toyota. Here, the agency reveals the challenges and processes faced to make this possible.

Executve Summary

The world’s first drive-through immersive experience was developed to launch the Toyota C-HR, narrated by and starring Milla Jovovich. Enticing Europe’s leading lifestyle press into the immersive world of the brand and the car, the C-HR was the star, the enabler; its key features inspired five short scenes, each in a different geography. State-of the-art, immersive, mixed-reality theatricals and technologies meant experienced press and influencers said, “I want to buy that car, it made me feel like a celebrity. I feel a link to the car now- the event allowed me to experience all the different elements. It was a very unique event”.

Toyota wanted to launch the new C-HR in specific European markets, but needed to reach a more lifestyle oriented consumer than with previous models. Freuds were tasked with creating a luxury press launch with a difference, and engaged us to work with them to design an execution to showcase the car in a way that guests would have never seen or experienced before.

Thus the world’s first immersive driving adventure came to life and, attended by lifestyle influencers as well as lifestyle press. We created 100 pieces of personalised content, secretly captured during the experience, that our guests could share beyond the event. And an additional suite of photographs and video content to inspire our guests, that they could share with their networks, amplifying the narrative beyond the live experience.

Objectives

We created 100 personalised videos, sent to each guest to share with their social networks the Monday following the event by email. As they entered the after party guests were emailed a time-slice video shot on a bullet rig. We captured behind the scenes interviews with the cast, designers and talent behind the brand experience as well as a hero marketing video bringing The Night That Flows story to life. PR guest list and the talent budget for Milla Jovovich sat outside our remit.

The target consumer likes to be constantly on the move, travelling to find new experiences – avoiding things that hold them back. The strategy was to bring this to life through a unique experience, with the car at the forefront of the narrative and to maximise the shareability of personalised content. The talent reinforced the concept of ‘flow’ and inspiration via interviews. Each guest left with a portfolio of personalised content and imagery; a short film and photograph starring alongside Milla Jovovich, enabling them to retell their story.

  • The Toyota C-HR design aims to connect with a more lifestyle-focused audience, generating brand equity.
  • Toyota wanted an innovative, creative activation beyond the traditional launch, to captivate experienced press and influencers.
  • They required an immersive, mixed-reality solution.
  • It should build on the audience’s interests in fashion, music, travel and design.
  • It should showcase the drive and features
  • The car was designed to create ‘perfect flow’, which was the inspiration for the concept
  • Beyond immersing media and influencers first-hand in the creative world of the C-HR, Toyota wanted to capture personalised and compelling assets that the brand and the audience could share.

Strategy

The strategy was to bring this to life through a unique event, keeping the car central and to maximise the shareability of personalised content. By working backwards from the final output, we conceived capture to offer maximum scale and engagement. An immersive journey that could also be experienced online by many, beyond the event.

The launch was inspired by the philosophy of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of ‘flow’ when everything comes together in a highly focused mental state and individuals can achieve their full potential. Our event was designed to transport guests into this psychological state of positive immersion, bringing the car’s features to life by stimulating every sense within the narrative. We engaged our broader range of lifestyle media with a performance to talk about the C-HR while talent reinforced the concept of ‘flow’ and inspiration via interviews.

This fully immersive, 360 degree, multi-sensory theatrical experience took seven months to plan. We convened a bespoke team of celebrated artists, designers and technicians from the genre - set, lighting, sound, projectionists and film-makers, to bring our creative flow concept to life. The car starred as the protagonist in this powerful narrative.

The concept was to take 100 guests, three at a time, on a one of a kind adventure; an immersive drive-through experience. The journey flowed through 8 fictional scenes of converging short stories by award winning novelist- Matt Wilven. Each scene brought to life Toyota’s priority markets in Berlin, Paris, Milan, Barcelona and London and drew inspiration from the C-HR design pillars: innovation, design and driving dynamics.

The Printworks, was discovered, a unique location never used before by any brand. Scenes included a group virtual reality experience, by projecting inside the C-HR, so the car became the canvas, transporting guests through Berlin. On the star-studded catwalk of Milan, guests visited a fashion show within an octagon of mirrors, the C-HR and our guests revolving within. In Paris guests joined a series of theatrical Casino games and a professional stunt driver whisked them around a projection mapped set, showcasing the car’s driving dynamics. In Barcelona A famous DJ led a flash mob of fashionably-clad dancers around the car, highlighting the car’s sound system. The experience culminated in a London bar, where Milla surprised the guests.

From the experience we created a marketing movie and behind the scenes film for Toyota and during the live event pivotal moments were secretly captured, creating a personalised film, delivered to media days later. Live capture: a 180 degree bullet-time rig timeslice of guests while posing for a catwalk, a drone shoot and a hidden camera, to capture the finale where they finally met with Jovovich and found their perfect flow.

Guests left the experience furnished with a bank of assets: a personalised movie, a personalised photo with Jovovich and the bullet rig moving image. In addition to the personalised content created, general photography and videography were captured and seeded to media offering an overall snapshot of the campaign and providing additional assets to use within coverage. As the guestlist was market specific influencers, as well as press, the range of assets empowered them to tell their personal story in an authentic and unique way.

Results

To date 439+ pieces of print and online coverage with an editorial reach of 838 million. On the night, 361 social posts including campaign hashtag with a reach of 37 million, with 62 Milla Jovovich interviews.

The launch delivered strongly on targets of gaining cut-through in European lifestyle media and influencers, while ensuring focus remained on the drive and features of the Toyota C-HR. 100 target guests attended, producing a strong presence post-launch both through traditional lifestyle media and influencers.

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