Nicholas Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years. He is the Digital Strategy Lead and founder of Chicago-based digital marketing firm lonelybrand, where he directs the creation and execution of digital marketing programs that generate measurable signups, conversions and sales.
Innovation is a wonderful concept in bad economic times. Providing consumers with a community in which to contribute and collaborate on innovation is even better. Harnessing the power of Web 2.0 and social media concepts to deliver a better consumer experience will be the hallmark of the best brands in 2009.
Unfortunately for Toyota, the new Toyota Why Not? campaign misses the mark in a big way.
The messaging is clear: innovation drives a better product experience and a better way of life for everyone. What is significantly less clear is how the viewer is supposed to interact with the website.
Unwieldy and confusing, the jerky virtual world of Toyota Why Not? feels like a video game circa 2000. The site is seeded with messages about collaboration and user contribution, yet getting to these areas are anything but obvious.
Simple changes to the site would be of huge benefit - for example bringing user created content to the front page and allowing direct interactions on ideas a la Dell Community. Creating a mobile friendly version of the site would help as well, as the current incarnation locks out virtually all portable devices without so much as a redirect or explanation.
Saying nothing for SEO principles (to most spiders www.toyotawhynot.com has little content) the execution is lacking. Social media is about removing barriers between the brand and the consumer, not putting barbed wire on an already tall fence.
Toyota and their agency Dentsu America should take a hard look at the way people communicate through social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc...) and ask themselves if Toyota Why Not? is designed to engage consumers or drive them away.