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Toyota creates Special Olympics mobile hub and warms consumers hearts

Toyota has developed a mobile-focused digital hub and campaign for the Special Olympics, for which the brand is a sponsor, in an attempt to touch consumers' hearts and create an authentic brand impression. 

The digital hub named Share the Journey has a high social media integration, encouraging fans to post about the Special Olympics with the created hashtag #ShareTheJourney and links to all Toyota and Special Olympic social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. The mobile site spotlights various athletes and their families with links to their social media pages as well, which gets everyone involved on all channels, the athletes, the brand, the fans and the event organization. 

"Toyota has touched on a very important theme with this campaign, the participatory and sharing economy," said Michael Becker, managing partner at marketing agency mCordis, San Francisco. "People want to be connected and share experiences and stories that matter to them and leading brands recognize that the key to making this happen is to create capability to enable the conversation, not necessarily to drive it."

"Toyota?s content hub has exactly this type of capability," he said. "It can act as a way-station for people to share their stories.

Share the Journey?s mobile site incorporates social media posts from athlete?s along with their backstory. The Web site is interactive and features a countdown to the games and images from past events and events leading up to the official games. 

Aggregating authenticity 
The platform behind the digital hub is Stackla, which aggregates the social information into mobile and desktop sites. The Share the Journey Web site is the start to a sequence of content to be released leading up to the events, occurring July 25 to August 2 in Los Angeles.

"There are so many inspiring stories emanating from the Special Olympics," said Damien Mahoney, CEO of Stackla. "By integrating social content into the core narrative of the official site, the athletes, coaches and parents associated with the event can more easily tell their story. 

"And because the campaign is mobile-enabled, stories can be told on the go, from the palm of your hand," he said. "The Games are a tremendous celebration of triumph over adversity, and providing a live social content feed on the home page gives everyone a voice to share their moment with the world." 
A page of the site is dedicated to California muralist David Flores who created a mural inspired by the athletes of the Special Olympics, including a video on YouTube showcasing the artist and discussion of the mural as well as social media stamps to share the video on various social channels. 

Another section of the site allows users to search for athletes native to areas close to them. Users can input their zip code and features of athletes from areas close by aggregate. 

Representing your brand
The Special Olympics is a heart-warming initiative that is well known by many consumers. Toyota sponsoring the event allows it to become apart of the important organization and creates and wholehearted brand image, making consumers more likely to lean towards purchasing Toyota vehicles. 

Partnering with non-profits is a smart way to create this authentic representation. Recently, Walmart asked consumers to partake in its Fight Hunger. Spark Change campaign by uploading a photo with six friends onto social networks to prompt the retailer to donate $10 per post to Feeding America, proving that social media is an optimal communication vehicle for cross-partnerships with nonprofits (see more).

Toyota is also highly aware of the importance of leveraging mobile platforms and inventiveness. Recently, Toyota Motor?s Scion brand simplified car shopping by testing a virtual showroom that leverages mobile chat and video to provide guidance from customer representatives to visitors to (see more).

The content Toyota has aggregated on the mobile hub and its social media content spreads a widely perceived promotion, creating awareness for the Special Olympics as well as Toyota.

"These stories can both originate on the hub as well as converge to the hub from across the globe. This is a concept at mCordis we refer to as establishing an owned media causeway," Mr. Becker said. "Marketing leaders can use this concept to drive traffic to their owned properties, like the Toyota hub, from paid, earned and shared media, and likewise can use the hub to let content flow out into the world. 

"This is a perfect program for creating authentic brand image, since it allows the community to do the talking, to create transparency and connection," he said.

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily