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Toyota SA goes outdoors, online

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The starting line of the world's first outdoor Web site used by Toyota SA to launch the new Rav4.
The starting line of the world's first outdoor Web site used by Toyota SA to launch the new Rav4.

Toyota SA recently launched the world's first outdoor Web site, designed and built by digital agency Hellocomputer and staging firm Thingking.

The Web site was built to launch Toyota's new Rav4 model and allowed members of the public to navigate a real-life Web site, using a mountain bike as the cursor. The site was located on a 1 500m mountain biking track at the Bryanston cycle park, and is a scaled-up, interactive version of the actual Web site.

The first experience of the Web site was the loading status. While online loading is a matter of time, it was a matter of distance on the outdoor track. For the first 50m, the user got a 60%, 80%, 90% and finally a 100% countdown before the site came to life.

There were several menu bars erected on the track, which were wooden panels with the URL of the Web site inscribed on it. Each menu bar featured all the sections of the track, such as "models", "design", "safety", etc. Depending on which section of the track the cyclist was on, only one word was highlighted, much like the roll-over state change on an actual Web site. This interaction was triggered by an infrared sensor that the cyclist broke as he or she went past.

The cyclists were given topics to explore relating to the Rav4. In one example, after cycling under the URL bar highlighting safety, the cyclist could choose between Vehicle Stability Control, and seven quality airbags. When selecting the Vehicle Stability Control button, the cyclist crossed a particularly treacherous section of track making use of a stable wooden bridge, which lit up like a landing strip.

Pulley systems, massive pinwheels and trees padded with blow-up airbags were all used to demonstrate the features of the Rav4.

Within each section was a wooden Twitter bird that the cyclist could smack when speeding past, sending an instant Tweet to both their own Twitter handle, and that of Toyota with more information about that particular section.

When passing the final menu bar, cyclists collected a slip automatically printed by a cleverly designed "tree stump", which became their test drive booking slip.

The Web site ended with participants cycling over a refresh button, which "refreshed" the entire track for the next cyclist, and sprayed the cyclist with cool water, refreshing them too.

Innovative approach

Toyota SA's senior manager of marketing communications and planning, Pieter Klerck, says he is thrilled by the unconventional vehicle launch conceptualised by Hellocomputer.

A 'tree stump' printed a slip for each cyclist booking a test drive in the Rav4.
A 'tree stump' printed a slip for each cyclist booking a test drive in the Rav4.

"Toyota wanted to introduce SA to the all-new Rav4 in a bold and dynamic way, and the world's first-ever outdoor Web site delivered by Hellocomputer is just that," he says.

Another design by Hellocomputer also made headlines this week, after the agency built a hi-tech enclosure at the Johannesburg zoo, making a honey badger the world's first animal tweeter.

The agency has turned heads with other marketing concepts in the past, such as building a Facebook app that looks and works like a classic arcade game to promote RAMfest 2013, and developing a bespoke Web site featuring a customised instance of Google Maps for an Olmeca tequila campaign.

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