Lexus Turns To Network TV's Online Presence

Lexus's Hop In commercial For its new campaign supporting the IS C retractable hardtop car, Lexus is advertising on network, but a lot of that is online.

The effort features ads with a rakish theme, showing off the car's performance ability. They suggest that getting behind the wheel of the sports coupe might set you forward a few years and back a few pounds, especially if you're into jogging. They will appear on a range of networks, but even more often on those networks' online broadcasts. Tag: "Live a little, a lot."

Via Team One, El Segundo, Calif., the campaign comprises three short TV spots and one longer ad for the entire IS line starting this week, plus print, interactive, out-of-home and events. Television is running on prime-time networks and cable, as well as online at ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, Hulu, ESPN, Comedy Central, Vogue.TV,, Car and Driver, Road and Track, Facebook and YouTube.



One ad shows a guy driving the car along a bridge, slowing down beside a woman in a dress chasing someone. He speeds up, catches up with the woman she's chasing and the two drive off. Another spot has a prankster leaping into the car, squealing off with a mischievous grin, chased by an angry crowd. The third has a couple parked on an overlook, waiting for something. A helicopter roars overhead and they flee.

The campaigns' interactive side includes sole sponsorship of ABC's new and short-form content on YouTube. Lexus will also advertise on's Full Episode Player and will be the first advertiser on ABC's to run pre-roll footage of the ads on YouTube. Lexus IS C will be exclusive sponsor of's lifestyle concierge, an iPhone app that finds hotspots and events, and a "Randomize Your Night" microsite that creates itineraries in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami.

Lexus will also tout the $38,490 car on iPhone applications from and, as well as on digital versions of The Wall Street Journal BlackBerry application and the Fast Company and mobile WAP sites. Traffic will be driven to Lexus' WAP site:

Why the short-form ads for the car? "We felt it would be best conveyed in a shorter time frame," says a company rep. "Just watching the vehicle speed through the streets at heart-pumping speeds would make anyone want to get behind the wheel of the IS C -- which, of course, is the intent of the campaign."

The car may be quick, but Toyota and Lexus have hit bumps this year. Parent Toyota Motor reported a 21.9% drop in net revenues in the fiscal year ending March 31, and in the U.S., April sales were 126,540 -- down 41.9% from last April. Lexus sold 14,195 units last month -- down 39.2% -- and the IS nameplate saw a 43.1% drop in sales year-to-date through April.

Competitors have not fared much better. BMW sold 15,705 cars in the U.S. last month, a 41.3% percent drop versus 26,735 vehicles in the same month a year ago. Year-to-date, BMW brand sales were down 31.3%.

Todd Turner, president of L.A. auto research firm Car Concepts, says the problem for Lexus -- and particularly for Lexus as an excitement brand in this economy -- is that it isn't. "Lexus in the luxury segment has the most conservative buyers -- the least image-conscious," he says. "They are also consumers who will be the first out of the market when the economy turns down. People who leased Lexus cars and trucks are now keeping them."

Turner points out that Lexus sales started tanking last summer, while BMW sales really only started wallowing in February this year. "BMW buyers are the most likely to feel they have to have the car. They will put their neck on the block to have that logo to get into that 3 Series. They are more impetuous."

He says the benefit for Lexus is that when the economy returns, it will have a strong buyer base, with low default rates.

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