In a sense it was history in the making – Toyota Indonesia bit the bullet and decided to engage bloggers for the launching of its 10th Generation of Corolla Altis.
Toyota Indonesia’s corporate communications chief honcho Achmad Rizal and his team, together with the team from their Interactive consultant, Virtual, were on hand to welcome and dine the 15 or so “prominent” Indonesian bloggers they had invited for the launch of Altis at the ritzy Ritz-Carlton last Wednesday.
Wonder of wonders, Unspun, whose idea of testing a car involves nothing more than kicking the tires, was on the invite list. Never one to pass up a free lunch, Unspun went to the bloggers lunch and found a strange collection of fellow freeloaders and bloggers.
Some of them were prominent bloggers but some Unspun and his colleagues and freeloader-in training Hanny and Aditya have not heard of. Some were obviously car buffs but others were bloggers on things personal, medical, political and technical. It was like going to a party and trying to figure out what the theme was because the guests are so varied.
Nevertheless, after tucking into the Peking Duck, Sashimi and other assorted goodies to satiate our basic needs we listed to Pak Achmad extol the virtues of the Corola Altis. By now Unspun‘s head was spinning as the overtight pants around the waistline was constricting the flow of blood to Unspun‘s enormous gray matter. All Unspun caught was that the Altis had a low drag coefficient, not a very useful thing when all the speeding you can do is between the potholes and the back bumper of the next macet-bound car.
Still, one cannot eat another’s sashimi and not appear polite so Unspun listened and caught sentences paying homage to the Altis new safety features – if you get into an accident the car will be totalled front and back but you get to be safe. Broke but safe. There was also something about a system of the car door automatically unlocking and opening the moment you get near.
Then, all too soon, lunch was over and we were asked if we wanted to test drive the car. Unspun thought it would be a neat idea but got unenthusiastic when they said we could not test drive that day. We had to register so we could test drive it on February 28th.
With nothing more to much on Unspun followed the crowd of bloated bloggers to the Ritz’s ballroom, which had been tarted up to display several Altises. It turned out that we were not the only special ones previewing the car though – there were an assortment of hoi polloi there. Obviously, non bloggers from the respectable way they dressed and did not slobber all over the car.
Unspun got to kick the tires of the Altis and the other bloggers clowned around with their cameras and started posting humorous articles afterward in their blogs.
A few were serious into the tech and spec of the car and put the rest of us in shame as they wrote proper review of the car afterward (see links below).
As far as Unspun is concerned it was very brave and innovative for Toyota Indonesia to engage bloggers as part of their publicity efforts. But while the intention can’t be faulted, the execution of the idea could do with some improvement such as, IMHO:
- Inviting bloggers who write about cars or the automotive industry or those who are more relevant to the car and the brand
- Make the invited bloggers feel special by allowing them to test-drive the car there and then, before all others
- Ditto with the preview – it should be a session only for bloggers
- Pick a more inspiring car for the bloggers. The Altis is fine and Unspun is sure is a wonderful workhorse but workhorses aren’t sexy and do not have the wow factor. Better to wow the bloggers and generate a lot of shock and awe in the blogosphere with one of Toyota’s concept car
- Think less about marketing and more about associations with the brand. A concept car, for instance would get bloggers writing about Toyota’s technology, or environmental consciousless or dedication to design etc. This was a marketing exercise for the Altis.
- Make boffins, designers and others who are passionate about aspects of the car or the brand accessible to bloggers as they are a skeptical lot and are loath to be publicity vehicles for a marketing effort.
In spite of it shortcomings, the event was a first in Indonesia and Toyota Indonesia has reason to be proud of pushing the envelope. Although some bloggers ended up writing about other bloggers at the event and things other than the car, the exercise did garner quite a lot of postings, some were positive and none were downright negative. Unspun is sure that with a team that is willing to take chances Toyota’s efforts at Marketing 2.0 will only improve.
List of bloggers who stuffed themselves at lunch and lived to tell about it:
Note: Photos used here are lifted from the other bloggers as Unspun was too bloated to take own photos