Lexus basks in risk with new campaign direction

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 24 July 2015

Lexus has taken a risk with its new direction – but CEO Sean Hanley says it's paying off. The luxury car brand is this week launching an interactive campaign based on the electroluminescent heartbeat car developed for it by M&C Saatchi's Tricky Jigsaw innovation unit.

It has developed the world's first paint that can carry an electric charge, and built a concept F Series performance Lexus that includes a computer that converts the driver’s heartbeat into a light pulse across the car's paintwork.

The campaign includes a major partnership with NewsCorp across its men’s and lifestyle digital platforms and The Australian's print edition.

Lexus is also adopting Shazam's recently introduced visual recognition feature to ad an interactive element to the print campaign and show the car's pulsing lights in action.

The technology was developed in-house by the agency, and while it's a local marketing initiative, there is the potential for it to be adopted globally.

“It was a time when we were bringing this bold new look [vehicle] to the market, so what we were looking for was not just innovation, but to demonstrate the behaviour of innovation," explains Hanley.

"This is a different Lexus from Lexus of old. Lexus is a well-regarded brand, but at the same time, it’s a safe brand – we wanted to make it more exciting.

“It took a little bit of risk, but when you're trying to move a brand to a new level, the risk is just part of the journey. As long as it respects the integrity of the brand, we can do whatever we want. I’m a sales guy by background, not marketing, but I've got a deep respect for the power of marketing done properly. I always say to people, respect the brand but have the courage to have a go.”

Lexus appointed M&C Saatchi 12 months ago, ending a 25-year relationship with Saatchi & Saatchi, but CEO Hanley said the move was about “something new happening at Lexus”.

In that year, it has launched a number of campaigns, including the first interactive smart billboards that recognised luxury cars approaching and changed the creative shown to match the brand, even colour, of the car.

Hanley says over the last two quarters all Lexus brand metrics have soared, it's in double-digit growth year on year, and in June, it sold more cars in one month than any other month in its 25-year history in Australia.

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