Lexus is making a big marketing splash this week with a new campaign that debuts during its sponsorship of the US Open men’s golf tournament and also sets the stage for two key new vehicles that the brand is launching this year.
Whether Dustin Johnson continues his recent dominance to win this week’s open, in Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, New York, or somehow Tiger Woods makes history again—or whatever scenario unfolds—Lexus will be the dominant automotive presence surrounding the US Open for the 12th consecutive year.
In fact, it’s the first and only automotive partner in the history of the US Golf Association, serving as the official vehicle for the USGA and its championships. Lexus’s golf “ambassadors” include top men’s golfers such as Jason Day (above), celebrated legends such as Johnny Miller and leading women’s players including Lydia Ko.
“The US Open is one of golf’s most exciting majors,” Greg Kitzens, general manager of Lexus marketing, stated. “Our longstanding partnership … allows us to provide our customers and fans with premium experiences at the US Open, connecting them in a unique way.”
The Lexus Performance Experience will be located near the main entrance at Shinnecock, engaging fans with interactive activities such as the Lexus VR Experience (a virtual reality spin behind the wheel of a Lexus RC-F sports car) and a hole-in-one challenge that features a simulation of the famed 7th hole at the club. Lexus also will provide a fleet of courtesy vehicles and showcase its models on the grounds.
For those watching at home, Lexus will unleash a new marketing campaign that focuses on its expanding lineup of performance vehicles, and faster versions of its other nameplates along with how they’re built in Japan.
Called “Performance: Crafted to the Extreme,” the campaign includes TV ads that peek into Lexus factories building models including the LC 500 and GS-F, showing how high-tech assembly coupled with “Takumi mastery” yields “extreme exhilaration on the road,” Lexus said.
“Takumi” is the name of master workers who “preserve Lexus traditions and pass on valuable skills and processes, making certain every aspect of each Lexus vehicle is flawless.”
There are only 19 Takumi amid the 7,700 workers at the Miyata Lexus Plant in Kyushi, where painstaking attention to detail is paid to the cars, which feature titanium engine components, aerodynamically sculpted bodies and extensive track testing.
“We believe craft is measured not only by product quality, but also by the quality of the emotions it evokes,” said Cooper Ericksen, Lexus vice president of marketing.
Exciting product helps, too. Under CEO Akio Toyoda, the Toyota-owned luxury brand has been stepping up its development and production of performance vehicles and also hitting the re-set button on the exterior and interior of Lexus cars and SUVs, giving them a new, more dynamic styling language that is more consistent with the sportier image the brand wants to convey.
Lexus also is paying attention this year to beefing up its presence in the hot subcompact-crossover segment and spiffing up some of its long-standing sedan nameplates.
In December, the UX crossover will join the Lexus lineup at the bottom end of its lineup, just below the subcompact NX that was introduced a few years ago. It’s aimed at young customers who are the target of most luxury brands these days and will replace the slow-selling CT Hybrid as Lexus’ primary entry vehicle, with prices beginning in the low $30,000s.
Meanwhile, Lexus will introduce a redesigned version of its staple ES sedan, giving it a sharper new design, a more powerful six-cylinder engine, a more calibrated automatic transmission and a new underlying platform—all at about the same price as the outgoing model, at just around $40,000, making the new ES a value play as well.