- Toyota launched a new gaming challenge with esports organization Gen.G, according to a press release. Titled "Toyota Sedan: Drive Your Game," the competition runs for 10 days, from July 19 to July 28, and is being streamed on Twitch.
- The campaign aims to highlight the Toyota sedan lineup and features nine content creators competing in three-person teams in challenges on League of Legends, Minecraft and Teamfight Tactics. The competition itself is a virtual race and features gamified elements that viewers can interact with by participating in the Twitch chats and liking and commenting on social media.
- Toyota joins other car brands deepening their commitments to esports at the same time the brand is pulling back from its marketing around the Olympics.
Toyota's latest esports marketing effort sees the automaker casting a wide net to appeal to as many gamers as possible. The campaign taps nine content streamers with distinct followings and pits them against each other in teams of three to complete the most gaming challenges. By hosting the challenges across three popular video games, Toyota could expand its viewership to a larger pool of gamers. The stream also extends across 10 days —another possible tactic by the brand to maximize its total number of views.
Racing game elements could drive further engagement with esports audiences. To record each team's progress, images of Toyota sedans completing laps and earning points appear on the bottom of the Twitch streams, which players can move forward by sending customized Toyota sedan emotes in the chats. Viewers can help teams through social media likes and comments; these viewer interactions will be a strong factor in crowning a winner, per the release. Prizes including a PlayStation 5 and various gift cards serve as incentives to participate.
"Toyota Sedan: Drive Your Game" shows a deeper commitment to esports by the automaker as the topic gains popularity among car brands looking to appeal to younger consumers. The campaign follows a previous tie-up with Gen.G last March, in which Toyota hosted a weeklong Minecraft build competition. Other recent examples of car brands targeting gamers include Lamborghini's mobile racing challenge and Lexus' crowdsourced design campaign.
Toyota's commitment to esports comes as the automaker is pulling back from another focus of sports marketing: the Olympics, which is normally an advertising bonanza. A senior company executive cited local public disapproval as the reason the company is withdrawing its Olympics-related TV commercials in Tokyo, per Reuters. Toyota is one of the flagship marketers of this year's Olympics, which begin this week amid the disapproval of Japanese citizens as COVID cases climb in the country. Despite responding to these obstacles —including a recently implemented spectator ban —with mixed reviews, other marketers are staying put.
While NBCU executives have said that Toyota isn't changing its Olympics marketing in the U.S., the company's withdrawal from one traditionally popular area of sports just as it commits to a new channel speaks to esports' growing potential as a sports marketing platform. Amazon-owned Twitch, which is the most popular site for video game streaming, is currently investing its efforts in diversifying its content through new brand partnerships as it seeks to capitalize on pandemic gains.