Viacom Helps ToyotaDrive Its App Story

Toyota's on-board multimedia system Entune runs a lot of mobile apps. Viacom has a lot of networks. Put the two together and you get a unique advertising campaign featuring 13 custom spots and talent from channels including MTV, Nickelodeon and TV Land running on TV and online over 19 weeks.

Toyota introduced the voice-activated Entune system last year. It is now integrated into the automaker’s Camry and Prius v models.

“It’s something that takes a little bit of explaining, and that’s challenging to do in just a 30-second spot or a tag at the end of a commercial,” says Gwen Conley, senior media director at Toyota’s ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles.

“We reached out to Viacom because they have a very broad portfolio of networks, and we leveraged our relationship with them to introduce a new technology to consumers in the voice of each of the networks,” Conley says. “We can highlight the different apps that might be more appropriate to the consumers who watch those networks.”

Teams from each of the networks involved are helping to produce 30-second vignettes as part of the campaign. The vignettes run in both commercial time and promotional time on the networks.

“We’re highlighting the different applications that are most appropriate for our respective brands and our respective audiences,” says Dario Spina, executive vice president, integrated marketing, Viacom Media Networks Music and Entertainment. “I know this sounds cliché, but it’s sort of that good combination of us providing scale and context.”

First up is a vignette that started airing on CMT last month. The spot salutes the emerging country artists shown on Listen Up by following one young woman in Nashville traveling to a guitar shop and the venue where she is performing, all while listening to music on the iHeartRadio app.

Next up is Comedy Central, beginning the week of May 14. One of its spots features Jen Kirkman, a stand-up comedienne who appears on the channel, who uses the OpenTable app to find a decent place to eat while on tour.

With MTV, Toyota is tying into the series Teen Wolf, which is returning for its second season. Several Toyota vehicles are being integrated into the series. The network is also creating two vignettes featuring show stars Tyler Posey, Crystal Reed and Dylan O’Brien, who demonstrate the advantages of using Entune to access the OpenTable, MovieTickets and Pandora music apps in their cars.

Spina says the creative teams from the networks are very involved in the project. “We had to work with the development team to make sure that we had talent participation, and that they felt that the story line and the themes that we were covering within the custom creative was in line with the actual program,” Spina says.

Having TV personalities in the spots was important to Toyota. “We wanted to leverage talent at the networks wherever possible, because it makes it more authentic to have the voice of the networks,” Conley says.

Toyota is also working with one of Viacom’s best-known stars for its tie-in with Nickelodeon. The SpongeBob SquarePants spot is scheduled to air the week of June 25.

Also being produced are two spots from Spike. One features a dad using the MovieTickets app to take his kids to see a film. Another shows a dad using the Bing app to get directions. A spot from VH1 features singer Grace Potter of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals driving in a Camry and listening to her new single on the iHeartRadio app. And a spot from TV Land highlights Toyota’s integration into the series Hot in Cleveland.

Executives from Viacom and Saatchi declined to say how much Toyota is spending on the campaign, but it is a part of the automaker’s larger advertising relationship with Viacom and its networks.

Spina says Viacom also worked on the campaign with Toyota’s media agency, Zenith. Conley adds that in some cases Toyota’s integration agency, Brand Arc, was on set, making sure vehicles were displayed properly.

E-mail comments to and follow him on Twitter: @jlafayette

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.