With captive audience advertising dying out (slowly, in some cases), advertisers have increasingly been adopting new strategies to convince people to buy their products. The automotive industry has often been the most creative in experimenting. From Lexus' plans (nearly six years ago!) to let people make their own commercials to Lexus (again) doing a contest with TiVo to get people to watch commercials to BMWfilms to Honda's famous cog commercial -- there have been tons of experiments. It appears that Toyota (which, of course, is part of the same family as Lexus) is now trying to hook kids at a very young age -- well before they're driving. For years, automakers have been putting their cars in video games, but those games tend to be car racing video games (makes sense, right?). Toyota, though, is shooting for an even younger demographic, by dumping references to their Scion brand all over a children's "interactive community" with the belief that it can (a) get kids to influence their parents' car buying choices or (b) get the kids hooked on the brand at a very early age. In fact, Toyota claims that the effort is already a success -- with the word Scion being mentioned thousands of times in chatrooms and "virtual Scions" being bought plenty of times within the community. Of course, you might also say that it's a success in teaching kids that product placement should be expected absolutely everywhere -- even supposedly educational community websites.
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