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Toyota Canada Inc.

Gold – Off to a Good Start




This is the story of how Toyota Canada’s smallest car ever became their greatest launch.


Situation Analysis:


Toyota ’s Echo Hatchback was the leader in sub-compacts, but it was time to replace it.   Yaris would be the new brand.   It had European styling.   But horsepower and performance were ordinary.   And price was no advantage.   It was higher than Echo’s, and near the top of the category.   Research also showed that young men (a prime target) used words like unattractive, unimaginative and under-performing to describe sub-compacts.   Even so, the objective was set:   Yaris had to replace Echo with an increased share, and attract younger male drivers to Toyota.


Strategy & Insight:


Qualitative research showed that women and empty nesters liked Yaris’ quality, value and cuteness.   But young men, then as now, wanted style, performance and originality.   Yaris had to find a way to deliver this.   So the decision was made:   to make Yaris a special kind of badge.




Phase 1 started in September 05, but with no mention of the car.   We meet an outrageous character called Uncle Yaris.   There are wild postings.   And graffiti in nightclub washrooms.   And CDs of his favourite tunes.   And pizzas delivered in Uncle Yaris boxes.   And, where he offers his unique philosophy along with a blog, games and downloads.   Mass media starts in Phase 2, with :15 second TV – but this and the website still give no clue as to what Uncle Yaris is all about.   This comes in Phase 3.   Overnight, wild postings, mobile media and outdoor vinyls all switch to the vehicle.   TV:   :15s become :30s.    Cinema and DVD advertising start.   And becomes a vehicle website, with Uncle Yaris taking a back seat.




In the first eight months Yaris sales more than doubled what Echo had achieved during its launch.   This beat the already aggressive target by almost 25%.   In addition, the average age of Toyota sub-compact buyers dropped considerably.   [Figures were provided.]


Cause & Effect:  


The case outlines this in some detail.   Perhaps most compelling is that a car with a modest 106 horsepower engine and 14 inch wheels could develop an image for “fun to drive.”   In short, this was an unconventional launch with resounding success.

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