Toyota angling for a new crowd

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NEW YORK -- Toyota, auto sponsors of the Bassmaster Classic, has developed a 15-episode behind-the-scenes Web series about bass fishing's premier tournament and the lives of five top anglers that began airing this week on the new toyotafishing.com.

The Bassmaster Classic, described as the Super Bowl of bass fishing, airs on ESPN2, as does the Bassmaster Elite Series, an 11-event tournament circuit that's also sponsored by Toyota and its Tundra trucks. Last year, 9.5 million people tuned in to watch the five Bassmaster Classic telecasts.

Toyota calls the new Web series, "Hooked," a "true first-of-its kind for the bass fishing industry." It was produced by Brand Arc, Toyota's Los Angeles-based branded entertainment agency, and will run on a number of other sports, fishing and outdoor Web sites via banner ads that either link directly to the webisodes or to toyotafishing.com.

"This is the first true behind-the-scenes footage you'll see with any of these professional anglers," Toyota spokesman Chad Harp said.

He said Toyota developed and funded the series of 15 three- to six-minute webisodes to help drive traffic to its toyotafishing.com and toyota.com sites. "We want to give more to our fans and people who care about the sport," he said.

Toyota hopes the series and the toyotafishing.com site will help drive sales of the Toyota Tundra, the official truck used by fishermen to haul their boats and equipment in the Bassmaster Classic and Bassmaster Elite series.

Toyotafishing.com will document the activities of five anglers sponsored by Toyota -- Greg Hackney, Mike Iaconelli, Terry Scroggins, Dave Wolak and Kevin VanDam -- on and off the water. The series features footage of the five preparing for the Bassmaster Classic, which took place in late February in Birmingham, Ala., and the start of the Bassmaster Elite Series.

The Web series represents a growing trend of brands creating exclusive behind-the-scenes content from the sporting and entertainment events they sponsor.

"We're looking for ways to get more out of our sponsorships," Harp said.

Mike Davis, executive producer of "Hooked" and executive producer at Brand Arc, added, "It's not just about the sponsorships now. If you're smart, you're also thinking about content in line with that." He said brands don't necessarily have to pay additional fees to shoot behind-the-scenes content of the events they sponsor, and those rights are frequently included as part of sponsorship deals.
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