Four-Minute Showcase Highlights Two New Car Models

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NEW YORK ( -- Lexus will use TiVo to show off its latest branded entertainment initiative -- a documentary that centers around the Avant Guardian, a nearly 10-year-old festival that celebrates up-and-coming fashion photographers.

Beginning Dec. 1., Lexus will unveil a slick 2.5 minute documentary about 2003 Avant Guardian honoree, Michael Rodriguez, who goes by the professional name of Comrade, as one of three planned TiVo Showcases.

One of the Lexus ad images from the current issue of 'Surface.'

On-demand content

TiVo Showcases are a media form sold by TiVo to marketers in one-week increments that offer marketers a way to broadcast short-form entertainment fare to consumers. TiVo users can select Showcase content from the main menu and view it seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for the duration of the ad buy. Content generally includes a direct-response element to allow viewers who want more information on the advertised product or service to get it from the advertiser.

The overall feature is four minutes long, including the 2.5 minute documentary and an additonal 1.5 minutes of additional product promotion.

Lexus, a division of Toyota Motor Sales USA, bought a two-week increment and in its first week shows a long-form video about its hybrid engine RX sport utility; the second is for the IS, a new entry-level luxury sedan and competitor to the BMW 3 series.

Lexus’s documentary will be paired with an integration within Surface magazine, which launched the Avant Guardian festival nearly ten years ago, and continues to sponsor the event.

Festival sponsor

Lexus, which is a title sponsor of the festival, plays a visually significant role in Comrade’s story. The film includes footage of the photographer in action as he shoots the IS for photographs that appear in a product-integration spread touting the contest in the Nov/Dec. 2005 issue of Surface magazine.

Pairing with Surface in print and in the TiVo Showcase was a way for Lexus to speak to a specific demographic, said Pamela Park, national media administrator of Lexus. "Surface has that hip, fashion edge that’s good for this vehicle,” she said.
One of the Lexus ad images from the current issue of 'Surface.'

The carmaker is targeting 35-year-olds, and "we felt Surface is a really good avenue for us to reach that audience,” Ms. Park added.

Damon Webster, the former director of advertising production at Saatchi & Saatchi, now runs PhotoInduced, the company that created the documentary. He said the work is “a more engaging and emotional message than a strict sales pitch” in a 30-second spot that’s part of a commercial pod. Shot in color, it is heavy on imagery and lifestyle.

Previous Lexus TiVo effort

The effort reunites Lexus with TiVo. In 2001, the automaker created a stir when it launched a sweepstakes in partnership with TiVo that required TV viewers to actively search out commercials for the Lexus ES 300 sedan in order to win a new vehicle.

Ms. Park wouldn’t comment on how much Lexus spent on the documentary or the TiVo Showcase. However, TiVo said that Showcase prices vary based on the availability of the limited inventory.

The potential benefit of Showcase buys are TiVo’s targeting and tracking capabilities, which companies including 20th Century Fox, Best Buy, Acura and Porsche have used to hype their wares in the past.

Davina Kent, VP-national advertising sales at TiVo, cited results of a case study from early 2005, where 16% of TiVo’s 3 million subscribers viewed an unnamed automaker’s ad. Of those, 30,000 of them requested more information, while 1,200 people requested a test drive and 228 people bought a car within a 90-day time period.

Consumer tracking

“We track all users’ movements and interactions with the ad,” Ms. Kent said. In addition to the documentary, Lexus’ Showcase for the IS includes a request for information.

The TiVo Showcase buy, said Ms. Park, "is almost a test," since the automaker hasn’t done anything like this with TiVo for several years. Lexus, Ms. Park said, is currently negotiating a long-term contract with TiVo that may include future Showcases as well as other features TiVo is developing, so "we’ll be looking very carefully at the numbers."

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Jean Halliday contributed to this story.
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