Toyota showcases 2015 Sienna van with customer-made videos in first online reveal

Toyota took the wraps off a new vehicle online for the first time on Thursday using videos made by parents showing off the 2015 Sienna van.

TORRANCE, CA: Toyota unveiled its 2015 Sienna van online on Thursday morning using videos developed by social-media-savvy parents. It is the first time the company has taken the wraps off a new car digitally.

The automaker asked the parents behind Action Movie Kid, Eh Bee Family, and Convos with My 2-Year-Old to make videos based on their adventures in the new Sienna, dubbed by the brand as the "swagger wagon."

After the launch of a previous Sienna model, Toyota found that minivans are not just focused on kids, but are "also about parents and parents owning their life stage," said Sona Iliffe-Moon, PR manager for Toyota brand and marketing communications.

"We thought this was a great opportunity to tap into the trend of creative parents who are sharing their everyday adventures and experiences in their vehicles to their communities in creative ways," she added.

The main objective of the social media reveal is to introduce the refreshed Sienna to parents in an authentic and relatable way through enjoyable content, said Iliffe-Moon. The target demographic for the Sienna is men and women 30 to 45 years old.

The brand will release nine videos in the next week, she added, along with a video log from the creators of Eh Bee Family in the fall.

To spread the word about the effort, Toyota and AOR Golin have engaged a wide range of media outlets, including automotive, parenting, pop culture, and tech titles. The initiative also includes all elements of the marcomms mix – paid, earned, shared, and owned – which Toyota had not done in the past for car reveals, said Iliffe-Moon.

In addition to working with Golin and the parents on the reveal, she said the program has been a "great integration internally" with the Toyota marcomms and Sienna marketing teams.

Next week, Toyota will launch the full marketing campaign for the 2015 Sienna, and it will "maintain the creativity that comes with modern parenthood and be primary social," said Iliffe-Moon.

She recalled that it was a "big decision to turn over the creative to a third party," but Toyota trusted the vision of the parents it selected for the videos. Those tapped for the effort filmed and edited the videos themselves.

"We’re really excited about taking this approach and paying homage to parents, their current life stage, and their creativity," said Iliffe-Moon. "They’re the ones who are brining swagger to our swagger wagon."

The father behind Action Movie Kid is DreamWorks after-effects artist Daniel Hashimoto, who uses special effects to transform everyday home videos of his son into stunts such as jumping over lava.

Eh Bee started when a family began posting six-second Vines about modern parenthood. The videos became so popular the family has done branded work with companies such as Disney Parks and Regal Cinemas.

Father Matthew Clarke kicked off Convos with My 2-Year-Old by taking discussions he’s had with his daughter, Coco, and reenacting them with an adult man. The videos include talks about anything from dolls to cookies.  

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