Toyota Yaris: It’s a Website!

I know I’m a little late to this party, but Saatchi & Saatchi LA’s for the Toyota Yaris is pretty incredible. From the release: is the home of the 2012 Yaris … with a Google Chrome/HTML 5 experiment that takes compelling WebGL and Socket-to-Socket technology and layers themover a complete interactive video tour of the car hosted by actor/comedian Michael Showalter. The tour and the technology highlight the standard features of the reliable and affordable vehicle (four wheels, cup holders, etc.) while allowing users to play with the videos and interact with each other in realtime.

WebGL, which stands for Web-based Graphics Library, is a JavaScript API that allows for 3D graphics without the use of plugins. (WebGL was used to power this Bookcase, for example.) But back to the Yaris.

Michael Showalter (a comedian best known for The State and Wet Hot American Summer) is kind of like a car salesman, and the website is kind of like a game. But the website is neither purely an advertisement nor a video nor a game. You (and four other visitors) can play with the site and interact with Mr. Showalter as he tours the features of the new Yaris. The car is not flashy; the site isn’t trying to convince you otherwise. It’s charming in a way that I think would work well for a brand like IKEA as well.

At one point, Showalter “lifts” the site and “breaks” it:

And visitors get to put it back together again. (Though clicking around just makes the letters and numbers fly around more.) For non-Chrome browsers, there’s also a lite version of the site that uses Flash for its GIF-wall look:

Saatchi knocked one out of the park here—it’s a purely promotional site, and yet users can’t stop playing with it. In an age where 60 seconds of commercial in the middle of a web video sends viewers to the kitchen for more snacks, this site convinced me to keep poking around in it for upwards of 10 minutes. Well played.