Lexus Extends Deal With TiVo

Lexus is extending a sponsorship arrangement with DVR company TiVo that dates back to 2000.

Last May, Lexus advertising on TiVo let subscribers use TiVo broadband to configure Lexus vehicles, a function universally offered on automaker Web sites, but rarely beyond the confines of computer screens.

Andrea Lim, Lexus media manager, said the new arrangement is open-ended, and that the company has not determined which vehicles will be promoted on TiVo, or what the nature of the program will be.

"I think Lexus marketing as a whole approaches things with an extended outlook," she said. "And we evaluate things regularly until we see that a program has exhausted its benefits."

TiVo's appeal, she said, is that it allows consumers to control the marketing message and engage in it, not merely block advertisements. "We saw it as an emerging technology. I believe that consumers are comfortable with marketing messages. But they challenge advertisers to come up with unique, innovative ways to reach them. We are moving from being just an advertiser to more of a strategic partner."

Bill Burris, Lexus relationship marketing manager, added that Lexus will use TiVo to engage consumers. "It's about relevancy and engagement: I may not be in the market, but I can choose my Lexus interior with the configurator, and from that TiVo will engage Lexus to send me a brochure that represents exactly what I'm looking for."

Burris suggested that the TiVo platform will be used both for specific product launches as well as for brand efforts, and that Lexus had a good response with last year's effort, which focused on the ES 350 sedan.

"The traffic was fantastic," he said. "We had over 20,000 hand-raisers for two months, which is a huge number of folks. They are just much more interested when they come through the TiVo channel, and that's not something we have seen before."

TiVo, which has around 4.4 million subscribers, has relied on satellite TV company DirecTV to fish for new subscribers--but that relationship will end next month, when DirecTV stops marketing TiVo to its customers and comes out with its own DVR device. DirecTV reportedly accounts for about two-thirds of TiVo's subscriber base.

Separately, reports are that Lexus is also readying the launch of a broadband video lifestyle channel.