Outside the Box: The 2008 Scion xB Pre-Launch Campaign by Attik
When Scion debuted in 2003, it marked one of the first instances where an automaker dedicated all of its brand marketing resources to a single segment of buyers; in this case, the target was urban-minded youths, also described as trend leaders. Over the past several years, the strategy has paid off: by the end of 2004, Scion had firmly established itself in the market, forged a place in youth culture and changed the way an industry thought about marketing. Scion's signature vehicle, the boxy xB, became synonymous with originality and individuality for a new generation of car buyers.
2008 Scion xB.
In January 2007, the xB was completely redesigned for the first time in its four-year history. As before, Attik embraced the task of launching this updated icon. With the car that broke all the rules the first time around, the challenge became, “How do we do it again?” After all, what was unconventional in 2003 had now become a standard. A ubiquitous, ambiguous “coming soon” approach would seem pedantic and predictable at best, and an ad campaign with a traditional media buy would likely miss a large share of the target audience. Instead, Attik went straight to the audience members themselves for inspiration, moving away from a campaign that spoke at them, and toward building a movement with them… the people that truly engage with the Scion brand and share its values.
Scion drivers are passionate about their “boxes.” The brand is a badge of honor for these owners who have created a sort of “box culture.” XB owners flash their headlights at one another – they love and relish the fact that people think their car is ugly, and they feel like members of an exclusive society.
Leveraging the Scion ethos, Attik created an aggressive, multi-layered approach to all things box culture. From dark, box-inspired cinema spots and viral videos to “Boxhead” people on the street, as well as a four-part guerrilla poster series (wild postings) and art exhibits in New York and Los Angeles, Scion's young, urban audience was immersed in boxes, both in the real-world and online. The campaign incited people to become a part of a box movement by asking them, “Want2Bsquare?”
Wild posting series 1 (courtesy: Attik).
One of the most ambitious undertakings of the campaign was a massive online environment, want2Bsquare.com. Comprised of six worlds (representing the six sides of a box), each with a unique visual take on the Scion brand and box culture, people were given an opportunity to explore another side of Scion for themselves. Stacked with multi-player games and other discoverable gems, the site offered movable panoramas inviting users to play, poke, prod, click and learn more about the new xB. Visitors were rewarded for their interaction. Each new item they discovered earned points that could, in turn, be exchanged for real-world Scion swag, such as shirts, hats, plasma TVs, new xBs, wallpapers, etc. The idea was to entertain, inform and reward people for spending their time on the site while immersing them in a Scion experience.
Although most of Attik's campaigns for Scion have featured web components, this campaign represented the first time the company centralized all the advertising to a website and made it the core of the campaign. Attik worked with game developer Bunchball to craft custom versions of multi-player games, and also developed more than half of the site's games (all the single-player ones) in-house. In fact, Attik added over 20 staff members at the beginning of 2007 as part of a massive scaling-up effort to support the development of this campaign.
Screen captures of the worlds Urban Wasteland, The Square and Screen City at want2Bsquare.com.
“Our main goal is to continue to establish a super-credible brand with Scion,” explained Attik's co-founder and group creative director Simon Needham as the campaign was kicking off. “With all the campaign elements and activities, what we're trying to do is inspire people to come to the site, to have fun with the site, and then make a choice as to whether or not they want to go and view the xB… It's not like we're trying to sell the car as much as we're trying to continue to establish credibility and to make our target audience aware in a subtle manner that there is a new car about to be launched.”
Stills from Scion xB “Box Bite.”
Each of the campaign's 16 viral films ultimately featured on want2Bsquare.com resulted from a brief that Attik distributed to more than a hundred of the world's most talented emerging artists and production studios. The brief simply called for a boxy theme and was left open for creativity. Of the 140 treatments which came back, 16 were given a green light. Attik's creative team read all the scripts, and then presented the best 30 to Scion. “As with every other aspect of this campaign,” said Needham, “the big plan when we first set out on this campaign was to do something that would produce total brain excitement. Each film had to be something that was going to potentially make people come to the site.”
Attik had a hand in overseeing and commenting on all aspects of the commissioned projects, ensuring that each finished film added something unique to the site experience. Collaborators in producing the films included: production companies Anonymous Content, AERO Films, Buck, Chelsea Pictures, Option-G, Outsider USA, Shilo, Subliminal Films, Sweet Shop and UltraMegaFilms; editorial companies Cake, Crew Cuts, Earth2Mars, Film Core and MWP; design/animation companies 3 Dart, Eight VFX, Graffects, and Lola VFX; and music and sound design companies Big Foote, Machine Head, Insurgent Music.
Kicking off the campaign, Scion vice president Mark Templin shared these words: “Over the past few years, Scion has set a new standard in the automotive industry for engaging customers. This phase of the campaign unveils an array of multi-targeted online and offline elements and events which are designed to create completely original xB experiences within Scion's target market.”
Here are some of the specific details on how the campaign played out:
• Want2Bsquare.com went live on February 23, featuring the first four worlds: Gray Matter (where users play games and compete with each other); The Square (dedicated to pushing the limits of visual arts); Urban Zoo (a central hub for users to connect, communicate and redeem their gained points in the Marketplace); and Urban Wasteland (dedicated to the customization and alteration of all things). Additional URL suffixes (.info, .org and .tv) forwarded visitors into the site and were used in specific campaign elements for tracking purposes.
Stills from Scion xB “Surgery.”
• From the night of February 23 through April 9, movie audiences in key U.S. cities began seeing a campaign-integrated 60-second theatrical spot entitled “Surgery,” which also invited them to visit the site. The spot was conceived by Attik's creative team, written by copywriter Andy Beach and directed by James Rouse of Outsider USA.
• On February 28 in key locations in major cities across the U.S., street teams actively began distributing merchandise and posting the first flight of a custom set of wild postings, to drive targeted young adult trend leaders to the website.
• On March 11, street teams began distributing flyers which allowed recipients to create and assemble their own boxy avatar characters.
• On March 12, a new round of wild postings went up in all target cities.
• On March 16, Screen City launched as the fifth world within want2Bsquare.com, offering an accumulation of the site's entertainment, including all the previously released viral videos and several new ones. New games and mini-games were also added, along with a new xB interstitial with 360-degree rotation and lots of desktop downloads.
• On March 26, the third flight of wild postings went up across the U.S., followed on April 9 with the fourth flight. Throughout this time and on through April, marketing teams continued distributing merchandise on the streets and in targeted cinemas.
• On March 29, the sixth world came online: entitled The Beat, it focused on music culture and the creation of original compositions. Among its features: musically themed neighborhoods (hip-hop, electronica, punk rock, jazz/classical); new Dance Dance Revolution-, Simon Says- and bull-riding-type games, among many others; new xB mini-games and hood-ads featuring musical twists; a very unique music mixer; and another new xB interstitial.
• On April 5-6 in New York City and on April 20-21 in Los Angeles, Scion presented want2Bsquare Art Shows, featuring original, square-themed works by artists Dalek, Matzu, Maya Hayuk, Sage Vaughn, Kelsey Brookes, UPSO, and Freddi C. Each artist was asked to paint on canvases of two square sizes, 48“ x 48” and 24“ x 24”, which were then assembled into cubes that were suspended from the ceiling at various heights throughout both galleries. Smaller cubes displayed the artwork on the outside, while the larger cubes showed artwork on the inside. As a result, viewers gazing up into the artwork from directly beneath the boxes became “Boxheads” themselves.
“I think the wild postings and the street teams and the events and everything else that we're doing are all important parts in an eclectic approach,” offered Needham on the campaign's many facets. “In essence, it's like buying a big bag of candy, and all the flavors are different, and each time you see wild postings or a street team, you get to eat one of those bits of candy.
”If you look at the wild postings,“ Needham continued, ”the whole principle is personalization and customization, which we've been hammering home since we launched Scion. All the wild postings are different… there's something for everyone. This is what personalization is about, finding what suits you, what's right for you. We hope that the wild postings and some of the other giveaways are juicy enough eye candy and pleasurable enough to look at to encourage people to want to go and find out more. We customize things because we like the way something looks, and that gives us pleasure. And I think the campaign is basically continuing to explore that.“
Wild posting series 2.
Since its launch on February 23, unique visits to want2Bsquare.com have increased about 10 percent per week, and as of July 1, total page views increased to over 1 million. Users are spending an average of 36 minutes immersed in the experience, finding out about the new xB and delving deeper into the Scion culture. The Scion community has picked up the conversation and is spreading the local event experience nationally via their blogs, Flickr pages, YouTube uploads and community forums.