News of March 14, 2001
Parlez-Vous Desir? Lexus Ad Campaign for Launch of SC 430 Entirely in French
TORRANCE, Calif. - A national U.S. advertising campaign entirely in French?? That's how luxury automaker Lexus will be introducing its first-ever convertible, the SC 430.
On March 12, Lexus will break two new commercials on national network and cable television for its brand new retractable hardtop convertible. The theme of the launch campaign - which also includes a specially-designed Web site, http://www.lexus.com/desire - is "Parlez-vous desir?" and will feature the spots exclusively in French.
"As far as we've been able to determine, it's the first time ever that a U.S. television campaign intended for the general population has run entirely in a foreign language," said Mike Wells, vice president, marketing manager at Lexus. "The car itself evokes romance and desire. We wanted to create a campaign that communicated those qualities by appealing to the romantic in the SC 430 customer."
The two TV spots are both set in whimsical French settings, with all the action revolving around the love affair with and attraction to the beautiful SC 430. One spot features a woman holding a dog on a leash in a French city.
The dog, sitting firmly on the sidewalk, is transfixed on the Lexus SC 430 as the owner struggles and pleads with the dog to move. The second spot features a cycling team racing in the French countryside. The convertible is traveling on a parallel road. At an intersection, the Lexus stops -- and so do the cyclists, who are mesmerized by the convertible. Chaos ensues. The Lexus has stopped traffic.
Though the voiceovers use French words that are easily understood – such as magnifique, splendide, and desir -- the point was to elicit a feeling of sensuousness and romance. The French comes across almost as a soundtrack.
"We were impressed with how sexy and romantic this car is and how people have a very visceral reaction to it. It's really about the way this car speaks to people," says Tom Cordner, co-chairman and executive creative director of Lexus' advertising agency, El Segundo, Calif.-based Team One Advertising.
"The voiceover in French is not intended to deliver copy points about the car, but rather we saw it as music, the way Italian opera touches people - you may not understand every word in the aria, but the power and the draw of the music evokes strong emotions," he adds.
The campaign also includes a Web site dedicated exclusively to the SC 430, which will break on the same day as the TV spots. In addition to comprehensive information on the SC 430, the Web site will feature a "Museum of Desire," where visitors can click on images of famous artwork to explore the different ways that artists such as Van Gogh and Klimt have captured desire. Of course, an image of the SC 430 is in the museum, as well.
The site also features a clever animation short of the SC 430 with its hardtop opening and closing - all set to music and a humorous, "Ooh La La" tongue-in-cheek vocal. A rich email version of the short will be sent to Lexus owners and prospects, and will contain a link allowing recipients to forward it on to family and friends.
(March 8, 2001)