Is the United States ready for a virtual pop star? Toyota thinks so. Last week, the Japanese automaker announced a partnership with crowd-pleasing Japanese pop music diva Hatsune Miku, who's similar to well-known artists like Britney Spears or Lady Gaga except in one crucial detail: she's completely computer-generated.
Toyota will be featuring Hatsune Miku in advertisements for the 2011 Corolla, noting that the two have both realized big dreams in compact packages. That's especially true for Hatsune Miku, a famous Japanese pop star who plays to crowded concert halls – despite being created entirely from a music synthesizer computer application.
"Toyota maintains a constant pulse on global trends and influences," said Bob Zeinstra, Toyota's national manager for advertising and strategic planning. "We are excited to have this partnership with Hatsune Miku because even if she is unfamiliar to some, the story of the character, her music and her dedicated fans are intriguing and in parallel with the stories history of the Toyota Corolla."
While most Americans likely won't recognize her image, Hatsune Miku's long, blue pigtails, trademark skirt and costume, and exciting dance moves are a hit in Japan. There, audiences gather to see her holographic image projected on stage while she "sings" using the Japanese-developed Vocaloid music synthesis speech application.
Toyota says advertisements featuring Hatsune Miku will appear on TV, in print media, and elsewhere, specifically targeting the Asian-American market. According to the automaker, commercials featuring Hatsune Miku received more than half a million views in just three days after being uploaded to its YouTube channel, youtube.com/ToyotaUSA. The Corolla will also serve as the sponsor of Hatsune Miku's first US concert performance, slated for July 2 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
While the Corolla typically ranks as one of the best-selling cars in the United States, volumes have been slipping in recent months due to the current model's aging design, increased competition, and the recent Japanese earthquake which has rocked Toyota's distribution network. In April, Toyota sold 24,215 Corollas, just shy of sales figures from its biggest rival, the Honda Civic, which sold 26,777 units – but still above Hyundai's redesigned Elantra, which closed the month at 22,100 sales.