How Toyota got their Hybrid owners to let strangers test drive their car for free


In both loyalty and customer satisfaction Toyota Norway are on top. In sales, top two. They have a unique contact with their customers, resulting in top scores in consumer tests for years. Nevertheless, they have a long way to go when it comes to winning new customers.

For the automotive business it is crucial to get people to test-drive cars. The conversion from completed test drives to selling the car is very high. From European tests we know that the propensity to buy a hybrid is very high if you have test driven a hybrid for 15 minutes. However, the numbers of test drives are decreasing. Now people are looking up information online and through friends and acquaintances before buying a car.


The idea:

If customers are as happy as tests showed, would they be willing to talk about, show off and even let people try their hybrid- without payment? If so, this would not only be a great story to tell for Toyota as a brand, but also a nice way for people to experience and learn about Toyota hybrids form someone they trust more than car salesmen: the owners themselves.

So, to once and for all prove that Toyota's Hybrid owners are the proudest and most satisfied in Norway, and to get more people interested in Toyota hybrids, we introduced “Try my hybrid”.



Through Toyota’s Facebook page, we secured a base of 100 hybrid owners all over Norway so proud of their cars that they, without pay, volunteered to let strangers, friends and neighbours test-drive their cars. Selected owners were the faces and voices of the campaign locally and nationally. When this was in place, we launched the website. The website had two ways in: one for hybrid owners where they could sign up, and one for the rest. On the last one people not only could find Hybrid owners close to where they lived, but logging in with Facebook, allowed them to find friends - and friends of friends, who's hybrid they could test drive. 

In a small country like Norway, this basically meant that every Norwegian on Facebook indirectly knew a hybrid owner they could test drive with. This completely new approach generated a lot of publicity. 55 newspapers all over Norway ran the story. The campaign also got a real boost when head of PR at Toyota Norway, Espen Olsen, called the host of "the Morning Club" – one of Norway’s biggest radio shows – Øyvind Loven, who happens to be a hybrid sceptic. Loven was caught totally off guard when Olsen challenged him to try his hybrid on-air. The result was that the entire show was broadcasted live form a Prius the following Friday.

Try my hybrid shows that when a brand dares to let go, their customers can be their greatest vehicles of communication. 


The process at Saatchi & Saatchi Norway

In order to execute projects like this, you can’t work in silos. We’re an agency where there are no departments. Where account, creative and digital are part of the same team. We merged with a small digital agency three years ago, but it was not until 2013 that it really started to pay off in terms of better work. It’s a slow and painful process for sure. But by tearing down old hierarchies, and working as one unit, we’ve definitively succeeded. With digitally creative talent and production in-house, we’ve made more ideas happen. Ideas that would otherwise die, or be executed poorly due to lack of funds or bought resources. Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts' take on the subject is a good principle to work by: "Nothing is digital, everything is digital". 


It boils down to the simple fact that work seldom turns out great - if the team doesn’t respect each other, or speak the same language. And although that might sound like a cliché, it’s an area in which many are failing. This subject has recently been debated in the Norwegian marketing community.  More than a few traditional agencies have failed to adapt themselves culturally when merging with digital shops. 






Team at Saatchi & Saatchi Norway:

Kristoffer Reppen, Senior Creative

Ida Fjeldbraaten, Copywriter

Christopher Køltzow, Digital Creative

Rune Sandnes, Head of Technology

Ola Bagger Skar, Production Art Director

Øyvind Waage, Creative Director

Snorre Martinsen, Senior Creative

Linus Hjellström, Designer

Mads Rønold, Content manager

Håkon Fretheim, Digital Director

Joe Langdon, Motion Designer

Patrik Bergfjord, Planner

Nanna Skipper Grønli, Account manager

Magnhild Foldøy, Account Manager

Eiliv Gunleiksrud, Creative Director Digital & Design

Haagen Sæther-Larsen, Account Director




Hybrid owners geographically
Hybrid owners geographically

Hybrid owners close to you geographically and through Facebook
Hybrid owners close to you geographically and through Facebook

Owners, ads, test-drive clips etc
Owners, ads, test-drive clips etc

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