TORRANCE, California — In the new series of ads for the 2016 Scion iM hatchback and iA sedan, starring actors James Franco and Jaleel White and an inflatable man, the Toyota brand embraces its quirky image.
The name of the campaign is "Weird, Right?"
Citing the brand's no-haggle pricing and "cars shaped like toasters," Scion admits it's "always been a little weird." But that image strikes directly at the heart of its Millennial Generation target market.
"People who buy the iM and iA are independent-minded, and our goal for this quirky campaign is to pique their interest in Scion," said Doug Murtha, Scion's general manager, in a statement. "While Scion's approach might be considered unique, it is designed to benefit our younger customers who want a streamlined purchase and ownership experience."
In the first commercial, Franco — known for starring in television's Freaks and Geeks, as well as numerous film roles, including Spider-Man, 127 Hours, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and This Is the End — goes for a ride in a Scion iM and an iA with his own creative, artistic alter ego.
The next spot features Jaleel White — best known for his work on the Family Matters TV series, as well as for roles on Charlie & Co., Grown Ups and Fake It Til You Make It, as well as for voicing Sonic on the Sonic the Hedgehog animated series — takes a cruise in a Scion iM with a wax figure of his best-known character, Steve Urkel.
"Scion celebrates their differences from the rest of the car industry in a weird, funny way that I can appreciate," said White. "I had a lot of fun working with them on the commercial."
The driver in the third ad is, as Scion says, "a little untraditional."
He's an inflatable tube man, like those you see in front of car dealerships, behind the wheel of the iA, using his flailing arms to point out various features of the car, including the 7-inch touchscreen display and the back-up camera. The "weird" comes when he tries to hold a cup of coffee as his hands flop around.
Scion says two more spots in the campaign will roll out in the coming months.
Both 2016 models are available now at Scion dealerships.
Edmunds says: Rather than trying to disavow the "weird" label, Scion has found an amusing and effective way of using it to engage customers.