Outdoor & Events

Cars That Feel


Issue 32 | September 2014


Soap Creative

Creative Team

Creative Soap Creative

Production Team

Sound Design Noise International Social Media Integration One Green Bean


May – June 2014


All car makers talked about innovation in their marketing. Almost every car on the market was positioned as somehow safer, smarter and greener.

How could Toyota stand out when every other car brand was talking about technology? And how could they increase awareness of the innovative technology within the Prius range while simultaneously raising perceptions of the Prius C and Prius V hybrid models?


The solution was to allow creativity to suggest Toyota innovation.

Every May, Sydney became a wonderland of 'light art' sculptures, innovative installations and dramatic projections during the annual VIVID festival of light, music and ideas.

Taking inspiration from Toyota's famous strapline "Oh what a feeling", cars that feel were created. In a light and sound installation, Prius cars would appear to engage emotionally with the people around them.

Three Toyota Prius models were transformed by the installation into sentient beings with their own unique personalities.

Each car had a stylised face projected on its windscreens and, depending on how the visitors behaved, all three responded with light, animation and sound.

Inside each vehicle were six internal wide throw BenQ projectors. Each also had a lighting rig underneath with five metres of high intensity LEDs that changed colour dynamically.

Each car had a human 'handler' using a custom app using a Raspberry Pi/ Arduino controller to issue instructions. The handler could control the eyes on the windscreen, giving the impression the car was following the movements of a particular visitor. A series of prompts and reactions completed the illusion that the car was responding to individuals at the festival.

In addition, each car had its own Twitter account (#carsthatfeel) and harvested tweets, photos and likes, responding directly to anyone who tweeted about it.

Real sounds like ignition, engine and warning tones were combined with melodic compositions to accompany each response from the cars to signal its feelings at that moment.


  • 1.43M people attended VIVID Sydney in 2014.
  • 1.8M interactions were triggered over the 18 days.
  • Estimated 50,000+ people directly interacting with cars.
  • Estimated 200,000 people viewed the cars at the event.
  • Became known as the 'crowd favourite' of the festival

Our Thoughts

There is much being written about Gen Y and how to connect with them. One thing seems true. These young consumers are digitally savvy and have high expectations of what brands could be doing and should be doing to interest them. A recent Ernst & Young analysis suggested that, β€œIt is through differentiation and innovation that organisations can create the shift in mindset necessary to win in the digital game.”

That, in a nutshell, is what this idea set out to achieve.

It is also an interesting precursor to a time when household objects will have personalities. Fridges that will play mournful music and have dim interior lighting when you fail to stock them up with beer, for instance.

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