It is sometimes surprising to see ads that get approved by clients and make it into our dens and onto our digital devices.
Such is the case with the first commercial from a new global brand campaign for Lexus, created by CHI & Partners, London.
Directed by big-name British director Daniel Kleinman, the spot shows a despondent 11-foot, robot-looking puppet moving through a city in search of…..something.
This search goes on way too long, as viewers ponder what the hell is being sold here.
The creature finally finds a mate. No voiceover is used throughout the entire 1:30 online version of the ad, only the the haunting voice of Kristina Train singing “I’m Wandering.”
It is not until the final two seconds of the commercial that we actually see a Lexus with the words “Amazing in Motion” and the smaller “amazinginmotion.com web site. If you’re sharp enough to notice, the same “Amazing in Motion” words accompanied by the smaller “Created by Lexus” “appear on screen for the first two seconds of the longer video on You Tube.
Here’s the first spot, called “Steps,” that is playing all around the world
Excuse me, folks, but what does this have to do with Lexus? I honestly do not get the branding part of this first spot. What does it really tell us about Lexus?
How about nothing! Seems like a big waste of a lot of money!
You can bet Lexus paid big bucks for: Kleinman to direct; licensing Train’s music; and creating these giant puppets.
Kleinman is no slouch. He’s won top awards for his ad work at Cannes, directed more than 100 music videos for big-name stars, and created the title sequences for the James Bond’ movie series from 1995 to 2006, returning in 2012 for “Skyfall.” He is co-founder of production company Rattling Stick.
But the ad looks more like a music video or movie promo than an ad for Lexus. Maybe that’s the point, but someone sold Lexus a bill of goods with this strategy.
Check out the Amazing in Motion web site, which thus far is a never-ending patting on the backs of the people who created these 11-foot puppets. And you can see a lot of the same info in behind-the-scenes videos on You Tube. Oh gee, they used a cool 3-D printer! Yeah, that’s a cool piece of technology, but SO WHAT?
Incredibly, I couldn’t find any Lexus vehicles on the site. Maybe that comes later. Along with some “Amazing” ads ……..hopefully.
When Lexus debuted in the US in 1989, it had some of the best advertising in the luxury-car category. Team One and the Lexus brain trust put together an amazing brand strategy with executions that are still remembered today.
How did this brand veer so far off course?
Once the brand started to enter other markets around the world, someone at Lexus decided the brand needed a uniform, global brand blitz. And aren’t faceless puppets who don’t say anything perfect for every market?
This idea of latching onto the word “Amazing” goes back to at least June 2011. That’s when Lexus introduced a video called “Engineering Amazing” to tout its hybrid technology.
Someone at the mother ship sure liked the word “Amazing,” because it was back a year later in a Lexus Europe video called “Creating Amazing,” explaining how the automaker was doing that.
Sorry, Lexus, but “Amazing in Motion” doesn’t have the same gravitas as “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection,” the line created by Team One for the brand’s US launch.
Now THAT was powerful.
We can only keep our collective fingers crossed and hope that upcoming executions in the “Amazing” blitz are much more relevant to brand Lexus.
Meanwhile, luxury car brand Audi is getting a ton of buzz from an online-only video, timed beautifully to coincide with the new “Star Trek Into Darkness” movie. The video, created by Audi of America’s PR shop, PMK BNC, is dubbed “The Challenge,” pitting Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek’s original Spock, against the newest Spock movie actor, Zachary Quinto.
Quinto drives the Audi S7, while Nimoy is in a Mercedes. The 2.5-minute video spot highlights the Mercedes’ shortcomings compared to the Audi. YouTube viewers are loving the fact that Nimoy sings “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” while driving to his rendezvous with Quinto. (Nimoy recorded that campy tune for one of his albums back in the 60s).
Here it is if you haven’t seen it
The video seems to have widespread appeal: to Trekkies, Audi aficionados, Hobbit lovers and Quinto fans.
This is a clever and funny way to show old luxury vs. new luxury, a main brand position for Audi.
Audi tallied 5 million-plus views on YouTube in the first week. That’s huge, folks!
On the flip side, Lexus got just under 3,000 views in the US for its first “Amazing” video in its first 12 days. But Kristina Train, the singer in the Lexus video, fared much better with the same video, reaching nearly 12,000 views on You Tube in just 4 days.
That pretty much says it all.
MAKING TRACKS: Brad Fogel joined Innocean Worldwide Americas this month as COO in Huntington Beach, California, the ad agency for Hyundai Motor America. Fogel had been president of Grey in San Francisco since May 2010, also overseeing the Los Angeles and Atlanta offices. Fogel played a role in Grey’s win of BMW of North America’s $80-million western regional account. He had been at Grey since 2007 and had stints at Publicis & Hal Riney, Hill, Holiday, Saatchi & Saatchi, Y&R and FCB. He also has experience on the client side, having served as CMO of 24 Hour Fitness for almost 3 years until July 2007.
He succeeds Jim Sanfilippo, who left last June after four years and is now a independent consultant.
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* A version of this first appeared as my monthly Ad Rap column in CNW Research’s online, subscriber-only, industry newsletter.