Toyota wanted to bring some excitement to its brand image. So it came up with the idea of a motorsports reality TV show, the first for this region.
The Al-Futtaim Toyota Motorsport Academy has proved to be a big hit for the Japanese car brand, streaming to millions of motorsports enthusiasts across the Middle East on Shahid, the Arabic streaming platform.
Toyota’s distributor in the UAE is Al-Fuittam Motors. Jacques Brent, Managing Director, Al-Futtaim Toyota & Lexus, said: “People post a lot of things online but very seldom to do they post about their particular Toyota. So this gave us a platform for that.
“Toyota tends to be a very rational brand – all about quality and durability and reliability. We tried to inject a little bit of a spark into it, a little bit of that fun aspect.”
Katib Belkhodja, Managing Director – Customer Centricity at Al-Futtaim Automotive, added: “This was the very first time a distributor in the region embarked on such a journey to connect with consumers, regardless of whether they were Toyota customers or not, as long as they have a passion for sport and the desert.”
The competition coverage soon attracted the interests of Shahid who wanted to promote the videos. “They loved the idea and wanted to push the episodes we were putting on YouTube. We had a reach of over 3 million people who have tuned in.”
Toyota is already thinking about another season of the motorsports academy, and has interest from other brands keen to participate. “What we have done has clearly made an impact. Now we have multiple brands who want to come and partner with us on the second season,” added Belkhodja.
“We have opened up a door for creativity that perhaps historically we were a bit shy to actual venture out. Now there is a sense of huge pride that we are capable to do great things.”
Al-Futtaim Toyota Motorsport was also lauded for its outstanding commitment to developing motorsport in the MENA region by winning the ‘Best Innovative Sports Brand’ award at the 10th annual Sports Industry Awards 2023.
The team feels it has now set itself high expectations when it comes to creativity, and looked to create a similar buzz around the recent launch of its new model – the Toyota Crown.
Toyota has always been a strong brand known for its durability and quality but wanted to add some excitement to its image. “We wanted to bring a lot more emotion to the brand in the UAE by piggybacking on those very strong pillars of trusts,” added Brent.
Toyota has a long association with motorsports and rallying, but felt it was lacking something.
“We sponsor rallies but we felt the missing dot was connecting with our audience by having those guys be part of the actual racing and driving challenges. And the best way for millions of people in the UAE and outside to see it was a realty TV programme,” added Belkhodja.