Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Scion iQ 'Babes 'N' Donuts' commercial: The wrong target?

First off, two things: It was just discovered that Scion pulled this ad from their YouTube channel. This is ironic because I was just writing this blog post, which was going to be about whether or not this ad fit the iQ's potential buying demographic. Frankly, I'm not surprised it got pulled. But here's the original question: Was this commercial even slightly on target for the audience?

We know that Scion is been actively courting the youth market of car buyers since its inception in 2003. And I'd say the Scion iQ ad above is 100% targeted at younger buyers. Let me clarify: younger male buyers—is there any doubt? Bikinis and strategically spilled milk. Need I say more? But is Scion chasing after a demographic that'll never buy the iQ? I've only seen a couple of iQs in the wild, and I don't know who was driving them. But, most people I see driving the Smart ForTwo, the iQ's closest competitor, usually look to be an older demographic; empty nesters or grown-ups needing a fuel miser for commuting. So can some clever marketing bring over the younger male demographic to the A-segment, or are we bound to see more middle-to-upper aged folks zipping around town in the iQ?

The iQ we reviewed stickered for right about $18,000—more than a larger and nearly as fuel-efficient Toyota Yaris SE, which is also much more entertaining to drive. As a 33 year old male, I found the iQ fun, funky, and interesting. The lack of a manual transmission turned me off, but if I could pick one up for $15,000 with a manual, I'd consider it for a commuter, even without the bikini models, milk, and pastries. However, $18,000 (without alloy wheels) was too much for my blood. I'd rather have the Yaris SE. And for $19,000, you can get into a Prius C which will blow the iQ's fuel economy away. Is there really a market for the iQ at all? Only the sales numbers will tell us that.

If you haven't seen the Scion iQ "Park" ad campaign, it is certainly clever and witty. No, not as edgy or sexy as the Babes 'N' Donuts ad, but still edgy and arguably far less offensive (and by "arguably" I mean "definitely"). Can Scion—or any manufacturer for that matter—capture young buyers to the A-segment? We'll have to wait and see how Scion decides to market its iQ next. I have a feeling bikinis, milk, and doughnuts are probably not in the formula again.

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