Lexus Pursues Awareness With New Improv Ads

Lexus, in its "Pursuit of Awareness" -- as Brian Smith, Lexus VP marketing put it at an Automotive News marketing seminar this week -- has been doing all kinds of unusual events, sponsorships, grass roots, social media, performances, and a mashup of the above, especially since launching the new IS sport sedan. 

After doing a truly jaw-dropping performance-art event during Fashion Week, the Toyota Motor luxury division is launching something new yet again: Called “It’s Your Move After Dark,” the partnership with NBCUniversal comprises a series of TV spots for the IS. But the ads are not canned. They will be created on the spot by improv actors/comedians based on suggestions from viewers, via social media, kind of a digital version of what you get at a performance of, say, Chicago City Limits. The whole procedure will happen in ad pods for “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.”



The four-week program, which starts Thursday night, has the improv comedians using an early ad pod to ask viewers to suggest ideas at #LexusIS through sites like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. The improvisers will then hammer out the ad based on submissions. The resulting ad will then air during the final commercial break. Lexus says East and West coasts will get different live ads based on their respective region’s social media suggestions. Each Thursday’s advertisement will broadcast live from under the Brooklyn Bridge, an area that has become fashionable with the East River waterfront’s redesign.

Smith, speaking at the Automotive News seminar, pointed out what we all know: peoples' attention spans are zilch partly because everyone is multi-tasking. "Marketing used to be 'how do we cut through all that.' The answer is that we don't," he said. "People are so busy and doing so many things that a great ad is enough to get peoples’ attention. We have to do it in a different way. Our approach is simple: creating great content and delivering it appropriately, and driving 360 experience." 

Lexus, per Smith, is working on not just making marketing messages but also content. "We are creating unexpected ways to discover the brand.” He said that, especially with the IS, there is an imperative to communicate to younger consumers. "We are hiring lots of young people and challenging them around the sales and shopping process."  

Lexus is airing a 15-second promotional teaser for the improv program on Wednesday evening in NBC’s late-night programming commercial pods, announcing the following night's audience participation event.

The automaker says concepts and submissions for the ads will reside on a custom page at for viewing and sharing the day after each live broadcast. There will also be behind-the-scenes content from the campaign on the site.

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