The broadcast marked the first time in HSN’s 30-year history an auto maker has taken center stage.
Avalon Hybrid sweepstakes grand prize.
Motor Sales U.S.A. soon will decide whether its first foray into direct-retail broadcasting is worth repeating.
Only weeks after changing its marketing tagline to “Let’s Go Places,” the auto maker in early October took its hybrid models to a place no car had been before: the television studios of Home Shopping Network.
The Camry Hybrid, Highlander Hybrid, all-new Avalon Hybrid and models of the Prius family were featured in “Discover,” an hour-long program that showcased the hybrid models and explained the whys and wherefores of hybrid technology.
Toyota avoided violating state franchise laws by keeping the show an information-only production.
Airing three times in the one day, the program featured Micah Muzio, managing editor-Kelley Blue Book, and Tara Weingarten, founder and editor-in-chief of VroomGirls.com, an automotive website for women.
HSN says its programming reaches about 96 million homes and 80% of its viewers are women.
During the broadcast, which marked the first time in HSN’s 30-year history an auto maker has taken center stage, Toyota handed out prizes and conducted games in which fans could earn points for playing and enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win a ’13 Toyota Avalon Hybrid.
Toyota told HSN viewers when the show premiered that if they bought a hybrid within 90 days – that is, by Jan. 7 – they could claim either a $1,000 gas card or $1,000 in HSN Kash, credit that can be applied toward future purchases through the network.
Ed Laukes, Toyota’s vice president-marketing communications and motorsports, tells WardsAuto the show generated much more viewer response than either the auto maker or HSN anticipated.
About 45,000 product-information packets were sent to people who called or logged onto a dedicated website during or shortly after the broadcasts.
It will take the auto company at least a few more weeks to crunch the viewership and resulting sales data and then determine whether a return performance is in order.
Laukes says he and his team were “so impressed with the level of professionalism” they saw in both HSN’s production and retail operations.
Likewise, Jaclyn Miklos, HSN’s public-relations coordinator, says Toyota made a strong impact with “a great product, a great story” and a persuasive presentation.
“Having the full amount of time” to show viewers how a hybrid works “was really, really powerful,” she says.
Several recent market studies suggest most U.S. consumers don’t understand hybrid technology.
Market research firm Synovate surveyed 1,898 would-be car buyers and found two-thirds of them knew hybrids use both gasoline and battery power, but only a third knew some hybrids can run for short distances on electricity alone.
A significant number of those polled didn't know hybrids have on-board batteries.
Laukes asserts “Discover Toyota” was a “phenomenal success,” although it may take many more months until Toyota learns just how effective a campaign it actually was.
It often takes at least a few months for brand awareness to sink into the minds of consumers, he says, while the purchasing cycle in some households also can take a long time to reach fruition.
Whether or not the auto maker opts for an HSN encore, Laukes says, is just a matter of time. “As soon as we get through the fourth quarter of this year, then we’ll probably make decisions,” he says.
Miklos says HSN so far has not developed a similar relationship with any auto maker other than Toyota.