Toyota’s Creative Music Festival Strategy Targets an Elusive Audience


Live streams are a powerful technology that are only just now being utilized to their full potential.

Twitch, a platform that’s dedicated entirely to live streaming, recently hit a milestone when one of its contributors hit 10 million followers. Tyler Blevins, who is much better known as Ninja, is 27-years-old and spends 12 hours a day on the site where he primarily focuses on the game Fortnite.

Ninja’s channel has been so successful for a number of reasons, but it primarily boils down to the content.

For a live streaming campaign to be successful, the content has to be the number one priority. Fortunately, by finding a partner to work with, that content doesn’t have to spring exclusively from the heads of your marketing department.

A recent successful example can be found in a campaign by Toyota. Toyota identified an audience they wished to appeal to, found a content partner that appealed to the desired demographic, provided a desired service to this audience (and branded it in subtle, unobtrusive ways), and thus, achieved inroads with this group. Here’s how:

Toyota has had a presence at music festivals for several years. The brand showcased its vehicles in many creative ways including converting the trunk of a Camry into a vending machine, challenges where attendees compete to fill the cargo area of an SUV with as many objects as possible, and areas where festivalgoers could take a break from the sun and heat.


Photo Credit: UDOU by After Party

The main reason for Toyota’s focus on music festivals is to reach millennials, a highly coveted advertiser demographic. Sponsors have long recognized that the majority of attendees at music festivals are this group of 18- to 30-year-olds. However, reaching millennials through conventional means is often difficult since this group tends to avoid traditional advertising through cord cutting, using ad blocking software, etc.

“Toyota is a champion of emerging music and artist discovery, and we view this as a great opportunity to engage with Toyota guests, in particular, a young and diverse audience,” Nancy Inouye, National Media Manager for Toyota Motor North America, said to AdWeek. “We are constantly looking for authentic and innovative ways to insert the brand into the music vertical to reach our target audience.”

Toyota is certainly not alone in recognizing the millennial-heavy presence at music festivals. Sponsor spending has steadily increased over the last decade, from $1 billion in 2008 to a total of $1.54 billion in 2017.

For its 2017 and 2018 music festival efforts, Toyota wanted to remain focused on millennials while expanding its offerings to a broader audience. The brand decided the best way to do that was to partner with four festivals and live stream those events. To achieve this, Toyota aligned with media and technology company Oath to create a branded player that would broadcast this content across Oath-owned sites.

“It’s great to have onsite vehicle presence at some of these music festivals, but you have other kinds of integrations that you can do that make a lot of sense,” said Rick Fellen, Vice President and Industry Lead, Automotive for Oath.

The festivals Toyota and Oath live streamed were Firefly, Panorama, Life Is Beautiful, and Voodoo in 2017 and Firefly, Stagecoach, Life Is Beautiful, and Voodoo in 2018. The 2018 content included the ability to switch between stages at the events because fan feedback indicated a desire to be able to customize the experience.

Photo Credit: The Doobie Brothers

The live streams (and Toyota vehicles) were promoted across Oath websites using data and insights to target millennials, specifically those who were likely interested in buying a new car.

The streams themselves were shown on Yahoo Entertainment and also a custom billboard ad on the Yahoo homepage. An essential element to this strategy was ensuring that the content could be viewed on mobile devices.

“We used to only run this on desktop due to the mechanics of how we were streaming the event, but over the last couple of years, we’ve expanded that reach across mobile and tablet,” said Fellen. “Mobile was a really important component and seems to be a much more important component moving forward.”

The results of the 2018 campaign won’t be known for some time, but the 2017 events proved to be very successful for Toyota. The streams received 83 million views, which was a 107 percent increase compared to 2016, and the average tune in time was 15 minutes, a 26 percent increase from 2016. Mobile viewers also accounted for an increased share of the audience with a seven-fold increase in average time spent on mobile.

Adults between the ages of 18-24 were found to be 23 percent more likely to consider a Toyota when considering a new car purchase.


Photo Credit: Miss Millennia Magazine

Incorporating live streams as part of its music festival marketing gave Toyota’s strategy a critical boost.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau recently studied live stream video and found that mobile devices, specifically smartphones, are the most popular device for live streaming. In addition, 64 percent of live stream viewers engage with the ads associated with the content, such as pre-roll video and sponsored ads.

Live streaming can be a powerful component of a marketing strategy. However, the content needs to be relevant to your target audience to be genuinely effective. If you can create that engagement, audiences will take notice of your branding and are likely to engage with it.

If you are interested in developing a content partnership or for help with another aspect of an activation, give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433.