Thursday, February 23, 2012

Toyota puts more passion, SI style, into Lexus

By Paul A. Eisenstein, The Detroit Bureau

When Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda suggested he wanted to put more passion into the Lexus brand few might have thought he meant that in its more lustful interpretation.  But that’s apparently how the marketing folks at the luxury brand took it.

They gave a hint of a more sexy approach with their recent Super Bowl commercial and are taking things a significant step further as part of a partnership with Sports Illustrated magazine, Lexus becoming the Official Automotive Marketing Partner for the maker’s much coveted annual swimsuit issue.

In particular, the automaker will be using the, ahem, attributes of swimsuit model Tori Praver to show up the curves of its own new offering, the 2013 Lexus GS, as part of what it is calling the TORI 500 campaign.

You can take that quite literally, as Lexus has built a racetrack following the outline of the blond, bikinied supermodel – with professional race driver Scott Pruett and stunt driver Greg Tracy given the enviable task of tracing her outline – and then racing to see who will get to drive with the model as their passenger.

“What better way to help introduce the bold new face of Lexus-the all-new GS-than with a bold new campaign featuring a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model?” said Brian Smith, Lexus vice president of marketing. “With the new GS, there’s no going back for Lexus. Instead of just looking at the pictures, consumers can share in the fun through our many campaign components, including having Tori appear in their own photos.”

The multi-part campaign kicked off with a two-page spread in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, out yesterday, with the Japanese maker sponsoring the Beauties and Beats Music Festival continuing its pitch at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, in Las Vegas, today and tomorrow.

To let lustful fans share in the action, Lexus has launched its Supermodeled iPhone camera app that lets users put an image of bikini-clad Tori into their own photos.

It’s an age-old debate: does sex sell?  Apparently, Lexus thinks it’s the fastest way to convince buyers that a brand known for stodgy, safe designs is now as exciting as a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model.

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