The Curious Case of Toyota Corolla coupled with ColdPlay Concert

  What’s the correlation between the new Toyota Corolla Cruistronic and the upcoming ColdPLay concert in Abu Dhabi? None whatsoever. And I’m not trying to create one either. It’s just that on my way back from office as I flick through the handful FM channels we have here( Their number currently stands at 9) looking for interesting brand campaigns, I came across this contest on the Rush Hour Show on CityFM89 hosted by Munizeh Sanai.

It was one of those outrageously simple contests where you had to name the debut album of Cold Play. Of course in these type of contests almost everyone answers correctly so it essentially becomes a draw where you randomly pick out a winner. The prize in this case was a pair of tickets for the upcoming Cold Play concert in Abu Dhabi,UAE.

Anyway, that wasn’t the interesting part. The interesting part was, one; the contest was sponsored by Indus Motors, the makers of Toyota Corolla in Pakistan; two, the winner was a university student. How did I know he was a university student? From his statement after winning the contest that he got the winning call while he was taking a marketing class. Unless things have dramatically changed in our education system since I was in it, a marketing course isn’t taught in a college or school in Pakistan.

Here it is worth noting that CityFM89 did well to broadcast his reaction after winning the prize. I know it’s standard marketing gimmick, but it still needs to be done. CityFM89 also deserves credit for airing the winner name and his reaction to winning it frequently throughout the day. This sort of thing resonates well with the consumer.

So why were these two points interesting? Because Indus Motors sponsored a contest for their brand Corolla whose winner was invariably going to be a young fella, hardly target market material for a brand whose cheapest model XLi costs well above the million rupees mark!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m always for creating memorable experiences for a select few instead of churning out millions for ATL activities, because that’s how you create brand evangelists who’re going to root for your brand in sickness and in health till death do them apart i.e. the brand and its evangelist. Having as many evangelists as possible although a costly business, ensures that the brand will have consumers with high CLVs (Customer Lifetime Value), as well as a word-of-mouth advertising for life. And without these evangelists, a brand has little chance of attaining the brand pinnacle.

There’s also no denying the fact that this winner is going to have a tremendous time at the concert and he’s going to subconsciously associate this experience with Toyota. But then what? Is he going to buy a Corolla after coming back from the concert? Hardly.  Maybe ten years down the line when he can afford one.

In consumer behavior course, one of the basic things you’re taught is that there are two classes of people in love with your brand – one who want to but can’t afford it, second, those who can and who will.

Toyota did well to sponsor something on CityFM89 because this is the channel that caters to the A class, the class with the motivation and the wallet to go for a Corolla, but they chose the wrong tactic. The brand manager of Corolla ought to know that the target audience of ColdPlay is predominantly the youth. There may be SFIs (six-figure income) as well who like ColdPlay and can easily afford a Toyota Corolla, but then they’re hardly going to call in such a contest, now will they? There’s a possibility they may have, but we don’t know that, and it seems highly unlikely, especially when you look at the winner.

So Indus Motor’s strategy was absolutely right, create brand evangelists by immersing them in ‘out-of-this-world’ experience, but the tactic wasn’t. Unless Corolla brand manager is looking at the long-term, creating brand evangelists who’re going to serve the brand after ten years. But that line of thinking, although much needed, hardly exists in the Pakistani branding fraternity.