Toyota's Alternate Reality Campaign Drives It To Real Court

Toyota's Alternate Reality Campaign Drives It To Real Court

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Sure, creating a bunch of fake online personalities to harass and threaten people seemed like a good idea at the time ...

Viral ad campaigns are often difficult to pull off right. For every "I Love Bees", there's about a dozen failures like "All I Want For X-Mas Is A PSP" and Toyota's "Your Other You" ad campaign is an extreme example of the latter. Not only does it sound like a terrible promotion, but a judge has now ruled that a woman can sue the car manufacturer for $10 million.

Amanda Duick was signed up for the campaign by a friend visited YourOtherYou.com (which is no longer online). The campaign was designed to target men in their 20s because Saatchi & Saatchi LA - the ad agency behind the stunt - concluded that this audience "loves to punk their friends."

That logic just promises to lead somewhere terrible rather quickly, doesn't it? Don't worry, it totally gets there in record time.

Duick started to receive a number of frightening emails from a stranger whom she'd never met. He had her home address, told her he was on the run from the law, and was going to be hiding out at her house (along with his pit bull named Trigger).

According to a court document (.pdf), "Sebastian Bowler," who appeared to be a 25-year-old Englishman and soccer fanatic with a drinking problem (based on the MySpace page he sent Duick), told the plaintiff that he was on a cross-country road trip and would be at her house in a few days. After Bowler wrote that he'd run into some trouble at a motel, Duick received an e-mail from someone purporting to be manager of the motel, who included a bill to Duick saying she was responsible for a TV Bowler had smashed.

Unsurprisingly, Duick was pretty frightened by the emails before she received a message from Toyota explaining that she'd been punked as part of an ad campaign for its Matrix car line. It turns out that the entire campaign's purpose was to get people to sign up their friends, choosing one of five online personas to harass them. The targets would then freak out, thinking a total stranger personal information like their home address and phone number and were coming to visit in person.

Duick wasn't amused. She sued Toyota, Saatchi & Saatchi, and fifty people associated with the campaign for "intentional infliction of emotional distress; unfair, unlawful, and deceptive trade practices; and negligent misrepresentation, among other things."

Toyota, also unsurprisingly, moved to get the suit dismissed. The company claimed that the online terms-of-service agreement that Duick clicked on authorized the campaign to send her emails and that "disputes over the campaign would have to be handled through arbitration."

However, a California Appellate judge has ruled that Toyota used false pretenses to get Duick to click on the agreement. Instead, Duick thought she was signing up for an online personality tests and subsequently started receiving emails from the creepy soccer hooligan.

Reading through how this campaign worked, it's hard not to think of EA's flawed alternate reality game Majestic, which used similar tactics of having virtual personas contact players in the real world, making them believe they were in the middle of a sinister conspiracy. The game was put on hold after the September 11th attacks and subsequently canceled a few months later because (according to EA) there weren't enough folks playing it.

You'd think that someone at Toyota would've realized that an ad campaign like "Your Other You" was a bad idea. When the company that's responsible for the amazingly terrible PR campaign of Dante's Inferno doesn't want anything to do with a program like this, that's a definite sign that it should be avoided like the plague.

Based on my extensive legal knowledge (learned from watching countless hours of Law & Order), it looks like this is going to prove to be a very embarrassing, and potentially expensive, lesson for Toyota.

Source: Jalopnik

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Wow, just wow.

HAHA @ Toyota for the dumb campaign.

And a rousing **** YOU to the lady for basically stealing millions of dollars from Toyota for REALLY STUPID reasons and only furthering the concept of how litigious this nation is. People can get rich suing for the dumbest crap and "OMG they scared me for a minute, there. T_T" is NOT a painful, debilitating, long-term harmful effect. CERTAINLY not one worth millions of dollars.

And these marketing plans get approved? By people wearing business suits in offices? By major companies?

Okay Toyota: Here's MY next marketing plan. Go to a school, find any car that isn't a toyota car, then splash red paint over the front of the car and put a mannequin of a child near the wheels - get it? It's saying that non-toyota cars aren't safe! Isn't it brilliant? Guerilla-marketing dude!

If they approve that, we'll move onto the next phase of my marketing plan which will involve hiring thugs to punch people in the face before saying "Buy a toyota".

Christ which retard came up with that ad campaign...
Personally harassing people to buy your new products, well how could that ever go wrong :D

..yet another reason not to own a Toyota...Hope she wins.

Hey, I can't have sympathy for the makers of the Prius. That thing is a perversion of the sacred automobile and does not deserve to exist.

Korolev:

Okay Toyota: Here's MY next marketing plan. Go to a school, find any car that isn't a toyota car, then splash red paint over the front of the car and put a mannequin of a child near the wheels - get it? It's saying that non-toyota cars aren't safe! Isn't it brilliant? Guerilla-marketing dude!

I'd just sue them on the grounds that they gave my truck a shoddy paint job and need to cover the costs necessary to finish their work. :p

Eventidal:
And a rousing **** YOU to the lady for basically stealing millions of dollars from Toyota for REALLY STUPID reasons and only furthering the concept of how litigious this nation is. People can get rich suing for the dumbest crap and "OMG they scared me for a minute, there. T_T" is NOT a painful, debilitating, long-term harmful effect. CERTAINLY not one worth millions of dollars.

This woman is acting exactly as any corporation would act in her place. If you don't want people doing these sorts of things, you should also chide the corporations that pull this kind of shit (and worse) nonstop.

Seriously, why is it bad form for a person to be greedy as fuck but we all just shrug our shoulders or turn a blind eye whenever a business acts the same way? The law protects corporations same as real human citizens. Big business routinely fucks people over without any moral considerations. I cheer anyone who manages to bite back.

You know, I agree the women should get a small amount of compensation but the fact she's aiming for 10 million kinda says she's not really doing anything but aiming for a cash in. I hope Toyota stonewall her for that. I have absolutely no sympathy for people who feel hurt, and then decide to sue for a stupidly large amount. I hate how sue happy the West has become the past 30 odd years...

Sheesh.

I'm perplexed.

How does this ad campaign have anything to do with a car?

Raiyan 1.0:
I'm perplexed.

How does this ad campaign have anything to do with a car?

Honestly? Your guess is as good as mine. Toyota yanked it after the lawsuit was filed, so I have no idea.

The ad agency should be included in the lawsuit. It does seem like it's a bit of a money-grab, and I generally dislike seeing such lawsuits, but given the sheer stupidity of the ad campaign I can't say I feel too bad for 'em. I'm kind of hoping that they lose the case and that the woman gets all the money she's asking for, because nobody should be idiotic enough to think that campaign is a good idea.

Ashannon Blackthorn:
I hate how sue happy the West has become the past 30 odd years...

Sheesh.

And with 'the West' you mean America?

In any case: Toyota's PR team is a bunch of untrained monkeys, writing 'Toyota' on their feces before throwing it in someone's face. The woman, while a bit sue-happy, probably did make sure these kind of stunts will be done less frequently.

Ashannon Blackthorn:
You know, I agree the women should get a small amount of compensation but the fact she's aiming for 10 million kinda says she's not really doing anything but aiming for a cash in. I hope Toyota stonewall her for that. I have absolutely no sympathy for people who feel hurt, and then decide to sue for a stupidly large amount. I hate how sue happy the West has become the past 30 odd years...

Sheesh.

When suing for cash you have to demand more than what you expect to get. Whether she wins or settles out of court, she probably won't get the full amount.

Holy shit.

If ever I started to like advertisers, this should see to that.

Do they even live in the same world as us?

online terms-of-service agreement that Duick clicked on authorized the campaign to send her emails

You see what those f-ing EULAs want to allow you to do? That shit is ALSO not legal. No matter what you put in your EULAs. US or UK.

TestECull:
..yet another reason not to own a Toyota...Hope she wins.

Combined with the Clarkson avatar, it's almost Top Gear. Just needs a lead into Stig.

You stupid cocks. What kind of strange creep at Toyota thought this would be a good idea?

The fact that the woman is suing for that much says she isn't much better either.

Who still uses Myspace? She should have figured out it was fake just by that.

Advertising. You think you get it, then something like this comes along.

FieryTrainwreck:

This woman is acting exactly as any corporation would act in her place. If you don't want people doing these sorts of things, you should also chide the corporations that pull this kind of shit (and worse) nonstop.

Seriously, why is it bad form for a person to be greedy as fuck but we all just shrug our shoulders or turn a blind eye whenever a business acts the same way? The law protects corporations same as real human citizens. Big business routinely fucks people over without any moral considerations. I cheer anyone who manages to bite back.

Amen.

Even with the threat of lawsuits--which the media overblows tremendously--these large corporations show little reservation in screwing over customers and engaging in business practices that are dodgy at best. So we're supposed to crave a world where they don't even have the threat of litigation to keep them mildly in check?

These companies are well protected enough, with the rights of citizens but not the responsibilities. I don't have a lot of sympathy for them getting sued when they mess up and overstep their bounds.

I've got a great campaign to advertise fire extinguishers.

you all sign your friends up and someone goes round to their house and sets them on fire! What a brilliant idea.

Why don't they just pay me to come up with shit ideas? Im way cheaper than Saachi & Saachi...and my ideas are even shitter! BONUS!

Toyota:
"eehh... what's the worst that could happen? Lets roll!"

I dont get how they thought this would help them sell cars...can anyone explain the long term goal here?

How does this kind of thing survive the journey from idea to execution? How did this horrible, horrible idea that doesn't even have any obvious mechanism for getting people to buy cars manage to get approval and funding?

Is anyone associated with this whole thing actually sane and doing their job?

 

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