October 25, 2005
European "Yaris" More Hip than American "Echo"?
Have you ever heard of Toyota Yaris? No? Well, apparently, Europe has never heard of the Toyota Echo. Instead, the Europeans have always had the Toyota Yaris. UK auto review site Honest John called the 2000 Yaris Verso a car "aimed squarely at the over-50s." Now Toyota of Canada is trying to catch the attention of the under-25s by introducing a promotion campaign called "Uncle Yaris" (who looks a bit young to be anyone's uncle) in an attempt to change the image of the Toyota Echo along with its name.
What's wrong with "Echo"? Well, Edmunds.com called the Echo a "clown's car," possibly after Echo the Clown. That might not make "Echo" the equivalent of "Bozo," but it does suggest that echo was a less than felicitous choice. The essential problem with an echo is that it can't say anything original.
Since "Yaris" doesn't mean anything in either English or any other European languages, it's immuned to those automatic negative connotations. What "Yaris" does have is a meaning by association, and the "Uncle Yaris" campaign shows that Toyota hopes "Yaris" will mean "European-and-therefore-cool" to prospective North American buyers.
I dont' agree with that, but time will tell.
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Tracked on December 12, 2005 8:17 PM