Animate Your Own Toyota Story Using Xtranormal

August 9, 2011
You've heard of Xtranormal -- or at least you've seen the video that a Best Buy employee created with it, lampooning mindless iPhone fanboys. Xtranormal provides a quick and easy way to animate stories with cute, 3D cartoon characters, and now, Toyota is using the service to help Facebook fans share their stories of Toyota love.

The process is simple: start by authorizing the Toyota Auto-Biography app on Facebook. ("Auto-Biography": see what they did there?) Then, click the "Submit Story" button and tell Toyota a little bit about yourself -- particularly what model of Toyota you drive and what sort of wonderful experience you've had behind the wheel. Maybe it was a cross-country road trip that changed your life, or maybe you just really, really, really like the Sienna minivan. Whatever: plug in your story (under 1,000 characters, please), and once Toyota approves it, you can animate it with a click of a button.

In a press release, Xtranormal's president, Graham Sharp, says that "With its Auto-Biography Facebook campaign, Toyota has created an experience where customers have the opportunity to share their anecdotes as an animated character...right alongside their Prius or Camry! This is much more powerful than submitting their story in words only; the visuals provide a much more gripping experience that resonates with viewers."

So true, so true. In fact, the only thing more powerful than that would be, you know, allowing people to upload videos of themselves with their cars minus the insipid animation. Why not just continue doing that (as Toyota has done for some time)? Because the automaker is hoping to leverage the hip/wow factor of Xtranormal to drive traffic. This is interweb meme-ery at its finest. 

This is Toyota's second social media experiment in a row that's made us a little queasy (the first being Toyota's car giveaway, which awarded cars to nonprofits not because they were doing good work, but because they were popular). Someone need to Scott Mont-ify Toyota's social media team ASAP.

If there is a silver lining in this, it's that Xtranormal does make everything and everyone look uniform, putting fans on a level playing field. Submitted videos, on the other hand, would be of widely varying quality and feature many people who were, well, less camera-ready than others.

That said, the promotion still doesn't do much for us. Click over to Toyota's Auto-Biography page, skim through a clip or two, and let us know what you think. (Oh, and for those who might've missed it, the Best Buy/iPhone clip is embedded below. Note: some of its language is a little NSFW.)

[SFGate]

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