Uncle Yaris

Toyota was preparing to replace the Echo which had replaced the Tercel. The new model was a funny looking sub-compact with few competitive advantages. It was also stuck with an odd sounding name that meant nothing to Canadians: Yaris. The car would sell to older drivers based on value alone, but for a successful launch it had to be embraced by the youth market – a group Toyota had always struggled to connect with.

The answer? Uncle Yaris. Uncle Yaris was born in Europe. He was surprisingly quick. He could carry a lot. He was very colourful and he played great tunes. Uncle Yaris was a blind launch. People loved him and his seemingly random skills. Only later did they find out that these were actually attributes of a funny looking car.

The result was the most successful launch in Toyota’s history. In the space of a few weeks the name Yaris was firmly planted in the hearts and minds of young Canadian drivers. But more importantly Yaris has lead the sub-compact category in sales every month since it launched. Also, the mean age of Toyota sub-compact drivers dropped a full eleven years.