I've written before about the problems that speeding hybrid owners might pose for the Prius brand.
So, in the metacool spirit of seeking generative and productive solutions, how might Toyota incent Prius owners to behave in ways that enhance the brand? I've been mulling over that question for a few months now, but over the weekend I spied the license plate pictured above in a local Whole Foods (no surprise there) parking lot, and it sparked a brainstorm of sorts:
- Per the photo above, reimburse any owner who slaps an appropriately-themed custom license plate on a Prius.
- For those short on imagination, provide a web-based green-jingle license plate character generator over at www.prius.com
- Parking these things at Whole Foods is preaching to the converted. Better to try and infect new communities, so hand out shopping coupons for Wal-Mart, Safeway, etc... to owners who do the license plate thing.
- On the other hand, ego-gratification is a big driver of community-based marketing, so do a deal with Whole Foods whereby a highly visible parking spot near the front of the store is reserved for Prius owners who've done the license plate thing. Which brings me to idea Number 5.
- Issue owners who've done the Prius license plate thing a nice holographic-looking window sticker which says "Prius Maven Onboard". It's designed to sit inside the left corner of the vertical hatchback window, and is the cue to Whole Foods parking lot attendants not to tow your Prius from the designated Prius Maven parking spot.
- Make the green color scheme free. Charge extra for all the other colors. Charge much, much more for black paint, which lowers the albedo of the Earth.
- Better yet, paint the roof of every Prius white. The better to bounce sun rays back and reduce the air conditioning load. Plus, white roofs are in. Critically, tell owners why the roof on their car is white (even if they paid $2,000 extra for black paint), so that they can educate their friends about the concept of albedo.
- Provide a $1,000 rebate to any Prius owner who agrees to have a speed-limiter placed on the car. This device would limit the top speed to 75 mph, because drag increases with the square of velocity, and if you want to save the planet, it helps to not drive though it like hell.
- Sell the Prius as a service. If I'm a Prius Maven, I'm not buying a car -- I'm investing in a public confirmation and signal of my worldview. What if Toyota could make the entire Prius brand cradle-to-cradle by maintaining it and taking it back in a completely holistic way?
- Create a Garage Lifestyle Bounty. If you trade in your H2 for a Prius, you get acclaim on a public website, and you get a license plate frame, like "My old ride was a Hummer"
This is just a brainstorm. But increasingly I believe that word of mouth and infectious action is like a garden. A garden will grow on its own, certainly. But with inputs of energy and care, it grows that much better. The Prius has already tipped -- when you think "hybrid" you think Prius. But even companies like Toyota should think about ways to actively tend and feed the garden.