[Trigger warning.]

Shaker Alek emailed me about "this terrifying Toyota ad campaign, in which they hired people to harass and terrorize potential customers. It's unbelievable. All to sell the Matrix."

Unbelievable is the right word. Even with all the advertising fail I see on a regular basis, this is truly gobsmacking:
A bizarre "terror marketing campaign" for the vehicle, produced by Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles and creative studio Mekanism, harassed consumers via personalized e-mails. One target is taking Toyota to court.

Last year, Amber Duick received a series of nine e-mails from a fictitious character dreamed up by the campaign (complete with a MySpace page). The character told Amber he was coming to stay at her house to avoid the cops, and even sent her a motel bill for $78.92. According to AdAge, Duick was so frightened that she slept with a machete and mace near her bed.

The last email Duick received included a video that notified her how she had been fooled, and explained that this was an effort to market the Matrix. The campaign, which targeted thousands of consumers, invited people to nominate their friends to be victims of the prank, which is how consumers' personal information was acquired.

...The video invited viewers to "Pick one of our maniacs to mess with their heads for five straight days while you sit back and watch it all go down."
Says Stephanie: "Maybe it's just me, but those who were nominated as a target might want to find some new friends." Says I: What would make Toyota, or anyone else, think this would appeal more to actual friends than to people who want to harass the targets of the campaign? Toyota essentially offered to be the middle-man for stalkers, bullies, and other assorted assholes. There's no reason to believe that no one took them up on such a generous offer.


[Assvertising: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty, Twenty-One, Twenty-Two, Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, Twenty-Five, Twenty-Six, Twenty-Seven, Twenty-Eight, Twenty-Nine, Thirty, Thirty-One, Thirty-Two, Thirty-Three, Thirty-Four, Thirty-Five, Thirty-Six, Thirty-Seven, Thirty-Eight, Thirty-Nine, Forty, Forty-One, Forty-Two, Forty-Three, Forty-Four, Forty-Five, Forty-Six, Forty-Seven, Forty-Eight, Forty-Nine, Fifty, Fifty-One, Fifty-Two, Fifty-Three, Fifty-Four, Fifty-Five, Fifty-Six, Fifty-Seven, Fifty-Eight, Fifty-Nine, Sixty, Sixty-One, Sixty-Two, Sixty-Three, Sixty-Four, Sixty-Five, Sixty-Six, Sixty-Seven, Sixty-Eight, Sixty-Nine, Seventy, Seventy-One, Seventy-Two, Seventy-Three, Seventy-Four, Seventy-Five, Seventy-Six, Seventy-Seven, Seventy-Eight, Seventy-Nine, Eighty.]

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