Toyota Presents - Nice Idea, Short on Execution

Posted By Joe Pulizzi on September 16, 2008

Toyota launched its "Line of Scrimmage" program on Sunday in conjunction with NBC's Football Night in America.  I like the concept, but it falls a bit short in the execution category.  Let's review.

During the year, eight high school football teams will be featured (what Toyota calls the "gutsiest high school football teams in America") online and each for two Sundays via NBC during Sunday night football. I caught the first show this week as I watched my Cleveland Browns lose again.

I was left with a series of questions, including:

  • Now I'm told to follow this series to see which team makes the cut.  Is this a contest like "Biggest Loser"? Who determines the winner? In checking out the website, I couldn't find answers to any of these.
  • Okay, I'm also told to check the series out online.  I did. The same one-minute show is there, but that's it and not much more. What about interviews with the players, a video description of the series, a comments section giving me a way to interact, a contest?
  • At the bottom of the website there is a link to Toyota Tundra for more information.  I'm having trouble understanding the link between this and the Tundra. Is this because people who love football are more apt to drive a Tundra? A weak link at best.

Don't get me wrong, I like the overall concept. Toyota has developed a nice content video featuring high school football players dealing with life issues, and they found a marketing partner to distribute the original content via NBC. Unfortunately, they are missing a few important pieces to really make this come together.

Toyota does an okay job telling the story of the football team, but who's telling the story for the program? What's the significance of this, why is Toyota involved, how does this make the lives of the kids, the families and the audience in general better?  There is nothing bringing those aspects together, which is why the piece seems a bit flat.

We are way past web 2.0 now, so where is the conversation? There are many opportunities to get people talking about this via comments, consistent blogging, side interviews, out-takes, transcripts, etc. If they are there, I just can't find them (which would be another problem). They do a good job bringing in myspace and YouTube, but it's pretty much more of the same. Such a missed opportunity.

Developing content marketing/branded content solutions is not easy. If I had to guess, they had different teams putting this together. One team for the online portion and one team for the video portion. Then, some other team glued it together. If one cohesive team launched the program, I think you would have seen an integrated feel to the storytelling, which is currently lacking.

Now since this is just the first week, there is still time to remedy a lot of these issues. Toyota is buying major space to promote this content, and integration is key. If I'm Toyota marketing, I'm measuring this by how many Tundra's I'm selling. If they are going to hit their goal, they need to invest a bit more in "telling the story" of why this is something people should pay attention to.

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