Toyota Puts Emerging Talent on the Fast Track

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Music is a powerful vehicle, especially when it comes to connecting with millennials. No brand knows this better than Toyota (remember 2010’s “Swagger Wagon”?). The carmaker takes a 360-degree approach to its marketing and sponsorships, creating interactive experiences at festivals worldwide. But rather than simply capitalizing on the lure of headliners, Toyota pays particular attention to emerging acts.

“Toyota is a champion of emerging music and artist discovery … We are constantly looking for authentic and innovative ways to insert the brand into the music vertical to reach our target audience,” Nancy Inouye, national media manager for Toyota Motor North America, told Adweek.

In 2015, 2017 and again this year, the automaker is hosting the Toyota Music Den at Life is Beautiful. The pop-up series highlights rising acts in a more intimate setting, allowing fans to get up close and personal with artists. The Toyota Music Den returns this year and features a 15-act lineup that includes performance by jubilant Spanish rockers Hinds, indie outfit Mt. Joy, alt-pop singer Morgan Saint, and more, along with DJ sets from one-man EDM band Robert Delong, Australian electropop duo The Presets, and self-proclaimed “daytime disco” mixer Poolside.

Last year, the auto giant also live-streamed Life is Beautiful, along with the Firefly, Panorama, FYF Fest and Voodoo festivals.

“Toyota provides a platform to emerging artists that has become essential for a brand to connect with engaged audiences—and grow with them in an organic way,” says Thomas Fiss, associate director of partnership marketing for Life is Beautiful. “Toyota does a great job of listening to their consumer and staying on trend by leveraging music.”

Music has been a major part of Toyota’s campaigns, which often feature new and up-and-coming talent. 2016’s Music in Motion campaign featured enigmatic rapper Jay Electronica and underground rapper/producer Alexander Spit in a segment with conceptual artist JustinK. Recent ads also featured emerging bands American Gentlemen, TopLady, and FIDLAR.

Toyota does more than provide a cool soundtrack for their ads—they’re helping to foster creativity through music education grants.

In 2015, Toyota launched a partnership with VH1 Save the Music Foundation to support music programs at public schools. Last year, Toyota and VH1 Save the Music partnered with Life is Beautiful—and Las Vegas’ own Imagine Dragons—to provide grants to three schools in Las Vegas. Since launching the initiative, Toyota has donated a collective $110,000 to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, according to the company.

“A life with music education gives students the ability to express themselves, to be more creative,” Tyler McBride, engagement and marketing manager for Toyota, told Las Vegas’ Channel 13 News.

One day, those kids just might end up on the Life is Beautiful stage.