How Toyota Transforms Attendees Into Brand Ambassadors

Toyota’s Hotel Tacoma: Transforming Attendees Into Brand Ambassadors

How Toyota Turns Attendees Into Brand Ambassadors


Hotel Tacoma attendees were inspired to get involved in the weekend’s activities and push the experience out over social media.

Toyota this past May took to the Arizona desert for a wild weekend of mountain biking, motorcycling, ATVing and off-road trucking with 80 outdoor athletes and adventurers that not only sent their adrenaline through the roof—the fearless fun generated eight million social impressions and 1,200 Instagram posts for its Tacoma truck brand. Dubbed Hotel Tacoma, the experience tapped into the lifestyle of those who own a Tacoma, which is a solid workhorse of a vehicle that most often is used for recreation, kicking up dust and having a blast with friends, rather than work. (Read more about it and hear from John Myers, national marketing and communications manager, trucks, at Toyota.)

Hotel Tacoma struck a chord with attendees who felt inspired to get involved in the weekend’s activities and push the experience out over social media. “It is one thing to see a Tacoma in a tv commercial or print ad or on a billboard, but a totally different thing to actually be able to experience the campaign, and that is what Hotel Tacoma was—it brought the campaign to life on that mountain in Arizona,” says John Payne, creative director at Saatchi, which created the experience. Here we take an inside look at how Hotel Tacoma transformed the attendees into brand ambassadors:

1. It was Authentic.

Hotel Tacoma brought the brand’s Play Now ad campaign to life in a tangible, realistic way that people could feel and experience. And it wasn’t just about the trucks. Every touchpoint reinforced the brand’s aspirational lifestyle, from the food, to the campsite, the tents and the big open fire all created an experience that was not that different from what the attendees normally do on weekends, or wish they could.

2. It was No Pressure.

The goal here was to create an environment, a visually interesting, beautiful place filled with fun things, where these outdoor types could do what they love to do. And that’s exactly what they did. Attendees were told to use #hoteltacoma if they wanted to post anything, but there was no pressure to do so. “I think the reason people enjoyed the event so much is that we got out of their way,” Payne says. “No one had to do anything.”

3. It was Low Profile.

Other than the 28 Tacoma trucks on-site, branding was minimal. The Tacoma marketing staff in attendance skipped the speeches and talks about product benefits and were just faces in the crowd. Even the creative videographers and photographers on-site blended in and were just one of the guys in the group. The brand skipped the urge to collect data and follow-up info, solid in the belief that if they do it right, the attendees will remember the experience and the brand. Agency: Saatchi, L.A.

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