The Toyota-owned luxury auto unit will appear in the Super Bowl for just the second time, having made its debut in 2012. And while many of its teammates on the ad roster for Super Bowl XLIX are sure to rely on cute animals or celebrities to catch the audience’s collective eye, Lexus is opting for an affair that is more traditional. Lexus will simply show its new NX vehicle being put through its paces in a visually elegant fashion, all to the sound of music that has the noises of the car (think dashboard clicks, squealing tires and slamming doors) embedded in its beats.
The Super Bowl spot “gives us a chance to talk to people who may not otherwise talk to the auto industry,” said Brian Bolain, Lexus’ corporate marketing manager. Set to air sometime during the first half of the game, the 30-second spot features shots of the NX, a sport-utility vehicle that Lexus executives said has more luxurious driving dynamics than its peers and will appeal to younger consumers and men.
Lexus cruises into the gridiron classic, set for broadcast on NBC from Phoenix on February 1, as many automobile makers have gunned their engines in a different direction. Starting with the broadcast of Super Bowl XLV in 2011, when six different car makers ran a whopping 18 ads, according to Kantar Media, the big TV event had become a commercial parking lot.
In recent outings, however, the number of vehicles advertised in the game has dwindled, and NBC executives have suggested the number will be significantly fewer in 2015. Already, Volkswagen and General Motors have indicated they will sit out this year and two other perennials of recent vintage – Audi and Hyundai – have yet to confirm whether they will take part. Nissan, Kia and Lexus sister Toyota are slated to run commercials.
Other car makers may not have launch cycles that sync with this current Super Bowl broadcast but Lexus does. “It’s a very strategic time,” said Brian Smith, vice president of marketing for Lexus. “We are launching a very important, all-new vehicle we haven’t had before.”
To help make the sale, Lexus has tapped independent ad agency Walton Isaacson, a firm that includes Magic Johnson as one of its founders. This will be the ad firm’s first Super Bowl ad.
The Lexus ad is remarkable for what it lacks. The spot features no surprise appearances by a movie star or jokes about guys getting hit in the head or crotch, gimmicks that rear their head at least once in every Super Bowl. Instead, “the star of this spot should be the car,” said Aaron Walton, one of the firm’s founding partners. “We wanted to make sure that the focus was really around the performance of the car, the energy of the car, and we didn’t want to do anything that was going to take away from that.”
The agency chose to focus on giving the commercial a look much like a music video, the better to appeal to a younger consumer. Dave Meyers, a prolific music-video director known for his work for Katy Perry and Rhianna, among others, was enlisted to shoot the concept. “For this generation, music always plays a critical role,: said Walton.
Like the other Super Bowl advertisers, Lexus is spending a princely sum to get the word out about its product. NBC has been seeking between $4.4 million and $4.5 million for a 30-second spot in its broadcast, plus a similar sum for other NBC sports inventory. Executives at the car maker think the exposure the new NX will get during the game is worth the price. “There is no bigger sports property for eyeballs,” said Smith.