Toyota (TM) has launched its own video game. It can be downloaded through the internet connection on Xbox Live. The game in which "the new Toyota Yaris has a giant tentacle that reaches out of its roof to shoot enemies as it races through a futuristic tunnel, sometimes within inches of soaring fireballs", is the newest thing in marketing, according to The New York Times.
Is the approach a better way to get the attention of young drivers than running regular ads in games? The answer is almost certainly "yes". The game is free and probably fun to play.
But, an auto game, especially on involving any violence, begins to associate Toyota with the seamy side of the video game market. It is championed by "Grand Theft Auto" and is a culture of using cars to commit crimes and destroy enemies.
Toyota may be entering a portion of the video game market that is very different from its public image as a builder of reliable, fuel-efficient cars. And, the potential PR back-lash is not something it was expecting.
Douglas A. McIntyre