Thanks to influencer marketing, every so often we get a glimpse behind the curtain at a small part of what is a larger advertising budget.

Earlier today (Mar. 9, 2020) someone posted a photo of Karen Ip A.K.A. @FruityPoppin posing next to a new Toyota Prius on a 99 percent Asian car enthusiast Facebook group called Subtle Asian Cars. Hopping on Instagram and clicking one of @FruityPoppin’s hashtags on this sponsored post revealed that Toyota of North America partnered with a couple dozen young and popular Asian and South East Asian Instagram influencers around the New York area to introduce them to Toyota’s hybrid lineup equipped with AWD-E, variants of a car that’s been around longer than some of these influencers have been alive.

Here are a handful of top posts from Instagram influencers who used the #ToyotaHybridLife, a hashtag to woke Instagram users that shouts “Hey, sponsored post, over here!”

Toyota set up events in key locations around the United States with several of their vehicles, including the Highlander Hybrid, Rav4 Hybrid, and Prius with AWD-E, invited Instagram influencers, let them loose under supervised conditions over some tricky traction situations and, probably for the first time, let them experience the benefits of hybrid and AWD-e technologies.

The Highlander, Prius, and Rav4 are all vehicles these Asians and South East Asian influencers probably rode in at one point in their lives. I’m betting several have parents that still drive older models of these same vehicles to this day.

But now, a new generation of buyers is out there with little to no knowledge of Toyota’s more pedestrian lineup. Sure, this younger demo with a bit of spending money probably knows about the new Supra, Toyota 86, and some of the more expensive Lexus models, but those are not the bread and butter for Toyota, the cars that keep the lights on. What better way to introduce a suite of technologies in a hip and fashionable way then through the lens of some of that demo’s more popular follows on social media.

Here’s the sponsored post scrips verbatim showing the message Toyota is trying to get across to an Asian demographic.

Last week, I got a chance to experience the new #Prius AWD-e at #ToyotaHybridLife event. I have to say, I was very impressed with many of its features while driving in the snow. I am always on the go, and safety is very important for me. The AWD-e traction control kept the car on the road with less slipping and sliding. #LetsGoPlaces ? #sponsored

#ad Comin thru ?❤️ Took this 2020 @toyotausa Highlander Hybrid for a snowy test drive and this baby can climb dirt hills, plow through snow, and even has superior handling when tilted ? No excuse not to go camping now! ?? #ToyotaHybridLife #Highlander #LetsGoPlaces

Couple weeks ago I got to experience the new Toyota Highlander Hybrid and honestly, between functionality, affordability and a beautiful spacious interior (all I could think was “dang” I can fit a lot of car seats in here ?) it easily checks all the boxes!

Asians make up a large percentage of Toyota buyers in North America and it’s important for Toyota to keep its key demos informed about their vehicles. With more and more people consuming their media not through non-traditional mediums (i.e. cable television, magazines, newspapers, and traditional billboard ads) it’s important for a car company’s advertising to evolve accordingly.

What’s more effective? Shooting a $400,000 Toyota commercial targeting Asians and showing it a handful of times on prime time TV or inviting a couple dozen young Asians to drive around some cars and in return pay them some monies for one sponsored post?

And, this influencer marketing is already working in ways Toyota didn’t even think.

If we circle back to just @FruityPoppin’s post and its repost on Facebook’s Subtle Asian cars group, that post alone’s already been liked close to 400 times with 200+ comments, taking on a life of its own. That’s a type of marketing traditional techniques could never do on its own. Who knows what kind of influencer ripples those other posts from the handful of other influencers are making.

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Kudos to you, Toyota, on spending a couple of your ad dollars on some wholesome Asian influencers, the message is certainly getting out there.


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