2011 Scion tC: Is Scion Curbing Your Enthusiasm?

July 28, 2011
Toyota's Gen Y arm, Scion, has been a bit of a mystery to me, but not because of the product. The xB, xD and tC in their first generation were really on the mark when it came to hitting their target market. Marketing-wise there were no TV ads: it was heavily Web-oriented, with Scion reps appearing at tuner shows. It was a different approach needed to go after a demographic that is very skeptical of the mainstream media outlets.

The second generation has come in for more criticism at the product level because Toyota has fallen back on its old habit of a conservative restyle. We have all heard that the Gen II cars have gotten heavier, less unique and seem to be aimed beyond their traditional demographic target. 

However, it's the current advertising campaign for the 2011 Scion tC that I see being the most risky. It's intentionally aimed at non-Gen Y folks, albeit those with a pretty strange sense of humor, much like mine. The latest campaign for the tC can be seen in all its "Olympic" glory on Scion's YouTube channel and I recommend you check it out there.

In short, they have Zeus, the Greek God of Gods, as the spokesman for the new tC. There are a few ads for the tC, but there also is a series of gratuitous ads having little to do with the car, showing what a pompous jerk Zeus is to work with. And they are funny, in a Curb Your Enthusiasm, awkward-humor way. Not to everyone's taste.

What I found most interesting about the campaign isn't even the ads, which I actually like a lot. Rather it's the comments left by viewers. They were nasty, even outright mean in many cases--no surprise since YouTube commentors are the meanest on the Web. Yet the Scion folks chose to leave them up there for all the Web to see.

Has Scion moved too far away from its target market? Is this a colossal blunder? Too early to tell, but the reasoning for trying to broaden the appeal of the ads is really about the economy. In an interview, the national marketing communications manager for Scion, Owen Peacock, said the recession has hit the traditional Scion buyer, Gen Y, very hard and they need to find buyers, Gen X and older, who are still employed.

How do you do that? By marketing to non-Gen Y buyers with ads like these. And check out those viewer comments too. 


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