Lexus was the best-selling luxury carmaker in the United States from 2000 to 2010. Natural disasters in Japan in 2011 -- earthquake and tsunami -- however led to inventory and supplies problems, eventually resulting to lower sales in the US in the year. As a result, Lexus lost its dominant position in the US in 2011 and 2012, giving way to erstwhile followers BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
But Lexus is not finished yet in the US. Toyota's luxury division is aiming to crawl its way back to the top by first introducing a refreshed model and launching a corresponding advertising campaign.
This summer, Lexus is rolling out the redesigned 2014 IS model. To enhance the vehicle's appeal to younger luxury-car buyers, Lexus is employing aggressive ads from agency Team One. One of the TV spots for 2014 IS says, "You can choose to blend in. Or you can choose to blend out. It's your move."
The challenging tone of the ad marks a shift towards outspoken marketing strategy, which began with the GS rollout in 2012 and continues with the 2014 IS this year. According to Brian Bolain, Lexus Corporate Marketing Manager, internal research shows that the brand's new voice is "having a positive effect" on vehicle buyers under 47 years of age.
Bolain said that while the new tone attracts younger buyers, the brand is also not losing its current target market. Lexus's buyers are typically in their mid-50's. According to the Automotive News Data Center, Lexus is still behind Mercedes and BMW in terms of luxury car sales in the first five months of 2013.
“This third-generation IS features the bold new styling and dynamic driving characteristics now inherent in the Lexus lineup and the new ads reflect that excitement,” said Brian Smith, vice president of marketing for Lexus. “The TV spots capture the emotion engineered into the IS and challenge customers with ‘It’s Your Move.’”
The new Lexus IS boasts of a number of significant improvements, especially in terms of driving performance and its dynamic abilities – as conveyed through its stunning design, tight proportions and sleek surfaces.
In terms of dimensions, the new Lexus IS around 80 mm longer (at 4,665 mm) and 10 mm wider than the previous model. Its wheelbase – at 2,800 mm – is around 70 mm longer than on its predecessor, with the front overhang extending by just 10 mm.
Just like the new generation of the Lexus GS, ES and LS models, the new-gen IS now dons the Lexus spindle grille frontal design, thereby making it more identifiable with the new Lexus family while exuding a dynamic road presence and assertive elegance. This new spindle grille is by a set of headlamps located a bit higher than the grille. Above the grille is the new pop-up hood that gives the IS the lowest possible front profile while helping further optimize pedestrian protection.
The headlamps of the new IS are accentuated by the brand’s signature L-shaped Daytime Running Lights (DRL) – now employing LED technology – placed below the cluster. This positioning helps give the new Lexus IS a distinct and characteristic visual signature.