The Torrance, Calif.-based Toyota Motors luxury brand-- which will also kick in $150,000 in prize money in charity donations for the show -- is also featured throughout the series as primary transportation vehicles for the competing master chefs, who drive around Los Angeles to compete in various challenges.
Online, Lexus will sponsor the "Top Chef Masters Recipe Finder" and "Rate the Plate," where the user can determine which dishes rate best on www.BravoTV.com, along with "Top Chef Masters" weekly live voting.
A company spokesperson said Lexus, which is advertising during the show, receives verbal mentions at the end of each episode, and badging recognition in several shows. She said that Bravo is creating a custom webisode series featuring past contestants taking online viewers to personal points of interest in Los Angeles that have been rediscovered or reinvented, in a Lexus RX SUV. The "Custom Reinvention Webisode Series builds off of Lexus RX's brand message of reinvention," she says.
"The 2010 RX is the exclusive vehicle integrated into this series as the transportation vehicle between destinations, where key features are called out throughout the series," she says.
The show gives Lexus "the ability to partner with a highly successful franchise and align with legendary chefs," which delivers the upscale audience desirable to Lexus. The success of the regular "Top Chef" program made aligning with a new show less of a risk. Although it is not expected to deliver the ratings of "Top Chef," the premiere of "Top Chef Masters" was the highest-rated series premiere for Bravo history in that time period, she says.
Each episode of "Top Chef Masters" has two challenges, one on basic abilities with a five-star test system, similar to a la dining reviews; and an elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and invention of the chefs.
Other sponsors of the "Top Chef" spin-off show are Stella Artois, an on-air sponsor with weekly, tagged tune-in spots and billboards, and the Glad Products Co., which will provide a $100,000 cash prize to the "Top Chef Master" winner's charity of choice. Glad products will also be featured on-air throughout the series.
Lexus has also done yearly "Taste of Lexus" lifestyle ride-and-drive events, which include gourmet and luxury amenities for invited consumers. The company is considering doing it again this year.