It’s a question that even Bill Nye The Science Guy would have trouble answering: How did almost every celebrity in Hollywood come to own a hybrid? Were they all really so far ahead of the game? Well, yes and no. According to an article in Fortune, what we suspected all along is actually the truth: Toyota is a very clever marketing machine. From the article,
“The Japanese juggernaut (which just surpassed GM in global sales to grab the No. 1 spot has a secret weapon: a small but powerful nonprofit organization, the Environmental Media Association. Based in Los Angeles, EMA is single-handedly responsible for getting droves of celebrities into Toyota hybrids. EMA also played a key role in placing the top execs at the major Hollywood agencies – William Morris, CAA, Endeavor, and ICM – behind the wheels of hybrids.”
Ah ha! It helps that EMA also has such influential individuals like Pierce Brosnan, Blythe Danner, Ted Turner, DJ A, and others on the 52-seat board. NBC Entertainment president and EMA director Kevin Reilly was not shy about the relationship saying, “Toyota’s been a good partner – they realized they needed to make hybrids sexy; we helped.” CEO of William Morris chimed in with a similar view, “Toyota was smart. The entertainment industry plays a leadership role in this country. It’s about being able to demonstrate good values.”
It’s also got to be about demonstrating some free cars to board members. It’s not hard to imagine the partnership included a different flavor of green; especially when the article mentions that Toyota spent almost $100,000,000 to promote the Prius. Still, the idea worked and the industry has been rocked by the idea of fuel-efficient high-quality vehicles.
Nice move, Toyota.
[UPDATE] For the record, I spoke with a representative of EMA and they assured me no “deals” of any kind were ever made between Toyota and and the org. She mentioned that all EMA did “was deliver access to celebs so they could buy the cars more easily. No discounts, no freebies.” No conspiracy theories here. Just good old fashioned support for something the group believes highly in.