ANALYSIS: Will Toyota overdo New Year? - Toyota has opted to bombard the public over the New Year as part of an pounds 18m sponsorship on ITV. Danny Rogers wonders if this ploy will irritate or inspire viewers

By the time the festive season is over we can pretty much guarantee two things: one, you’ll be reviewing your gym membership due to excess-related guilt syndrome; two, you’ll be acutely aware that Toyota has launched its new family saloon - the Avensis.

By the time the festive season is over we can pretty much guarantee

two things: one, you’ll be reviewing your gym membership due to

excess-related guilt syndrome; two, you’ll be acutely aware that Toyota

has launched its new family saloon - the Avensis.



This is because Toyota’s ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi struck a deal last

week to sponsor every available ITV programme on New Year’s Eve and New

Year’s Day.



The pounds 18m tie-up also secures Toyota the ITV New Year sponsorship

rights for the next five years, including the millennium, as well as the

channel’s movie premieres for the next three years and the disability

programme Link in 1998.



Toyota marketing director Mike Moran is predictably effusive about the

investment. ’This is a fantastic deal. It will give the Avensis maximum

presence at launch and guarantee maximum awareness for the Toyota brand

over the next few years,’ he says.



John Hardie, ITV’s new marketing and commercial director, joins the

festivities.



He talks about breaking new ground in sponsorship and of ’the largest

and longest future investment ever negotiated by any UK network’.



But just how good a deal is it for Toyota? And is there a danger that

viewers will become irritated by a bombardment of endless motoring

messages at this time of relaxation?



Jean-Paul de La Fuente, senior vice-president of TV at sponsorship

agency ISL, is a positive observer. ’It’s a very interesting sponsorship

and an excellent idea. Research shows that repeated exposure over an

intensive period is an effective way of achieving high recall.’



Intense of purpose



’This concentrated approach is a good way of addressing concerns over

increasing fragmentation of audiences and a growing tendency for viewers

to dip in and out of programmes,’ adds de la Fuente.



However, Mark Wood, commercial director at BSkyB, is less impressed.



’I don’t know what all the fuss is about. It’s a lot of money but it’s

also over a long time period and a lot of programmes.



’Every sponsorship is different. If Toyota particularly wanted blasts of

awareness among a mass audience then this is what they’ll get.’



At first glance this ’throw a lot of money at TV sponsorship and hope

some of it sticks’ approach seems to fly in the face of current thinking

about tapping into viewers’ loyalty to particular programmes and the

cost-effectiveness of niche targeting.



Over the past year we have seen a raft of TV sponsorship deals that

carefully marry with a programme theme and audience sensibilities (see

box). What ever happened to that marketing cliche - brand ’fit’?



De la Fuente concedes there may be a downside but points out that a car

is now a mass-market product, with men, women and children having a say

over its purchase.



And let’s face it, when Cadbury signed its highly successful pounds 10m

sponsorship of Coronation Street last year, the two products at first

seemed strange bedfellows. There has also been doubt over the

effectiveness of the niche-targeted Wella/Friends deal.



In response, Mike Gorman, Saatchi & Saatchi’s media director, stresses

that the rationale for the deal was about intensity of impact.



The car with front ...



’This is an individual case. We wanted maximum awareness for a new

product and the theme is very much a new car for the New Year,’ says

Gorman.



As he points out, the festive season is a ’messy time of year’ for

media.



Newspapers are not so popular, the poster season is ending and TV

viewing patterns are different. ’If you’re trying to hit male and adult

audiences, they may be watching at different times than usual.’



This is true. But one has to wonder why Toyota chose this route in the

first place. Wouldn’t it have been better to build up more carefully

targeted advertising over a longer period of time - a route taken by

Ford with its Puma launch?



A spokesman for Toyota says: ’Part of the reason was the need to phase

out the old model before introducing the Avensis on January 8, but we

also decided a high impact launch followed by advertising in the New

Year would be more effective than the drip, drip approach.’



But Toyota faces the risk that the core audience of males, and

particularly those not involved in car purchase, will be more irritated

than inspired by the constant bombardment of car messages.



’There’s always a risk that the creative is not as imaginative, engaging

and entertaining as we intend it to be,’ says Gorman, ’But we will be

rotating it cleverly to avoid the annoyance factor.’



By the time you’ve hoovered up the dead pine needles from the Christmas

tree you will have your own view as to whether Saatchi & Saatchi’s

optimism is justified.





TARGETED SPONSORSHIPS SIGNED OVER THE PAST YEAR

BRAND           PROGRAMME     BROADCASTER   VALUE             START DATE

Pepsi           Pepsi Chart   Channel 5     N/A              February 98

Persil          ER            BSkyB         N/A               October 97

Douwe Egberts   Frasier       Channel 4     pounds 350,000    October 97

Tizer           Chart Show    ITV           pounds 500,000        May 97

Wella           Friends       Channel 4     pounds 5m        February 97

Going Places    Blind Date    ITV           pounds 2m        December 96



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