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The Swagger Wagon

September 14, 2010

The “Swagger Wagon”. What exactly is it? Some famous rapper’s pimped out Escalade, or a hot young celeb’s new Bentley? Whatever it is, it must be the hot new thing right? Well, not yet anyway…

Minivan sales peaked in 1995 and are now on the edge of irrelevance as many large families with lots of things to haul have chosen Crossovers or SUVs instead.  It’s not an easy task to try and market minivans to parents in their 20s and 30s. The biggest challenge in selling to Generation X and Generation Y is that they grew up in minivans, so they identify the minivan as their mom’s car.  They consider minivans about as “stylish as mom jeans”. However, because of its user-friendliness, the minivan will always have a niche.

That is why, in the minivan’s darkest hour, Toyota, as well as a few other companies, are trying to spark a comeback and reach out to the younger generations with redesigned models, cheeky advertising campaigns, and the use of the Internet and social media sites like YouTube.

The main concept in Toyota’s new campaign is the fact that the minivan is so not cool that it’s actually cool. Despite it’s sportier and more chic design, the main reason for the growing popularity of Toyota’s new Sienna, and perhaps what it’s best known for, is a series of company-funded Web videos spoofing the segment’s lack of cool.

One of the videos, called “Swagger Wagon,” features a young couple rapping about their Sienna in an innuendo-laden spoof.

Some other the other videos are just as tongue-in-cheek in their approach as they touch on things like safety, family values and the importance of a great deal.,

So, is Toyota’s new multi-media campaign that utilizes mainstream media, on-line advertising, and viral videos successful? The numbers don’t lie.  According to PR Newswire, the Toyota Sienna minivan rode a chic new design and a clever marketing campaign featuring the nerdy-chic and sometimes-rapping “Sienna Family” to No. 5 on the list of the most-viewed new vehicles on in June.  The Sienna had been at No. 43 on the most-viewed new vehicle list the previous month, May of 2010, and held the No. 50 spot on the list in June of 2009.

While the “Swagger Wagon” may not be the hottest new ride, it’s definitely on its way up the ladder to coolness. Toyota’s clever new campaign and innovative efforts have helped bring the minivan back from the brinks of extinction.


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