Q & A
NAME A SUCCESSFUL
digital
marketing initiative for
Toyota’s Scion auto brand,
and Adrian Si is likely the
man behind it.
Second Life? Been
there, conquered that—by
way of Scion City, where
residents can test drive,
customize, purchase, and
drive virtual versions of
their Scion xB. But Si cer-
tainly didn’t stop there.
Working with social
media firm Millions of Us,
Adrian Si:
Rewriting
the Rules of Branded
Entertainment
Adrian Si, head of interactive marketing for Toyota’s
Scion brand
Scion created a site called WhatIsScionCity.com. It features six short
films that use the technique known as “machinima”—cinema staged
and filmed from within Second Life’s virtual world environment,
using avatars as the film’s characters—with each film providing clues
to the history of Scion City. In keeping with the brand’s spirit of per-
sonalization, viewers can contribute their own research findings, with
the idea that the masses will collectively unveil the origins of this
“mysterious city.”
And then there’s the crown jewel of Scion’s branded entertainment
portfolio, Scion Broadband, which finances and showcases short films,
music videos, animation, and other creative work designed to connect
with the brand’s target consumers in potent new ways.
Of course, for many brand marketers, a number of questions imme-
diately come to mind.
Rick Mathieson: Why Scion Broadband? Why is a branded enter-
tainment portal such a powerful marketing vehicle for a brand like
yours?
Adrian Si: We’ve been very lucky that we’ve been able to associate
ourselves with this emerging group of creative types—whether they’re
in fashion, film, arts, whatever the category may be. This is just
another way for us to show how we are strong supporters of that
group, and I think a lot of people say, “Hey, those Scion guys aren’t in-
your-face about marketing, they truly believe in this very creative,
artistic community,” and this is just one example.
We’ve found there is some power in having a video platform in
which to share artists’ passions and pursuits, as well as to spread the
word to our users. It’s been a really, really positive experience for us.
RM: Scion’s model isn’t merely advertainment. Your approach
seems to be that this is targeted entertainment programming that just
happens to be underwritten by a brand. What is the benefit of that
kind of hands-off approach?
108
THE ON-DEMAND BRAND
AS: We felt it would be better if we try to pick and choose, and pro-
vide content that we felt would be interesting to our target. That
allows us a platform in which to support some of the new emerging
artists, directors, filmmakers, and people that we’ve been working with
throughout our history.
I think from [a marketing perspective] we’ve seen—especially for
this younger target—that they’re very savvy, and they can tell when
something is authentic or not. And so for us, Scion Broadband is really
about maintaining that authenticity with this target audience.
RM: Other brands have taken a cue from Scion—Adidas.tv,
American Eagle, and the ill-fated Bud.tv, for instance. How do you at
Scion Broadband, as one youth-oriented online entertainment net-
work, differentiate yourselves from other emerging networks that will
overlap your audience?
AS: First of all, we’re completely different industries. From our
perspective, we’re not necessarily looking to differentiate ourselves. I
think we have a core DNA that has always been about being authen-
tic, not being in your face about marketing.
So as long as we hold to that DNA, it doesn’t really matter to us
what other brands are doing. For us, everything that we do is talking
about, “Yes we’re a car brand, but we’re so much more than a car
brand.” I think as long as we stay true to [that DNA], that’s all that
we’re really concerned about.
RM: But what happens when it seems like every brand out there
gets its own broadband entertainment network?
AS: I equate that to thinking about the idea of a website. Ten
years ago, companies started adopting websites. Now today, what
company doesn’t have its own website? Everybody has their own
website. Now it’s on to “What is the next big thing?” Basically it’s
just a natural evolution. Pretty much every large brand will not only
have websites, but they’ll have all this rich content. So be it. Who
ADRIAN SI
109

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