It may not have been the first billboard Toyota has erected in Times Square, but it certainly was the most unique. Leading up to the 2016 New York International Auto Show, the Japanese automaker set up a 3-D billboard-cum-rock-wall at the corner of 47th Street and Seventh Avenue to promote the new RAV4 Hybrid vehicle. The March 22 to 24 activation was not only the first of its kind at the crossroads of the world, but also the tallest outdoor climbing wall ever built in New York City.
“It’s not just about how far you can take your vehicle, but how much you can challenge yourself,” said Erich Funke, vice president and creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi L.A., whose firm produced the activation in cooperation with Jack Hollis, group vice president of marketing at Toyota U.S.A. Indeed, the event tagline “How far will you take it?” dared adventurers to embark on challenges of their own—all the while inspired by the professional rock climbers ascending a billboard built as a mountain face. Christina Fate, a Team Toyota rally car navigator, also joined in the climb.
The 100-foot billboard (two pieces combined) was made of custom-fabricated 3-D rock and took three months of planning and permitting. The billboard utilized 1,112 square feet of space, weighed 6,000 pounds, and took 2,400 hours to construct and eight days to install.
The activation itself was timed to the media days of the auto show, and Toyota offered press shuttles to and from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center show site for journalists interested in a first-hand look. Jackson Spalding handling all event-related communications efforts.
“It’s more interactive than participatory, but we wanted to showcase that anything is possible—and fun,” said Hollis. “This totally caught people off guard.”