Back in August Toyota released the Prius Experience iPhone app that let you take a 360 degree tour the Prius interior, take a photo of a Prius ad to get a augmented reality version of the ad or draw shapes that will be added to the Prius environment. You are prompted to “draw a tree” but you can draw anything you want but i has to be done with a single continuous movement. That drawing them populates the landscape behind the Prius as it drives along. This week the app gives you a chance to move those interactive elements from your iPhone screen to the Reuters board in Times Square. The creations are updated on the live displays in realtime throughout the day and you can check it out via the livecams on the Times Square web site. When I tried it I got a warning that because of high volume, all artwork might not be displayed and that drawings will go up in the order in which they were received. I think this is a well worded cover for the their behind the scenes approval process which obvious is in place as I haven’t seen anything obscene go rolling across the screen.
I can see how they are trying to pull everything together with the campaign theme of “Harmony Between Man, Nature and Machine” and the play between the app and the Times Square board is an interesting twist but it is done on an old execution (the Nationwide Insurance ‘Life Comes At You Fast’ Times Square site I worked on launched 4 1/2 years ago). In the end the app as a whole falls short because it feels like a collection of the latest techniques that never really come together to make anything really conceptually or executionaly breakthrough. The Times Square functionality is still live so you can download the app now and decide for yourself if ti makes you want to buy a Prius.