$345M IN CAR ADS HANGING IN BALANCE;JAPANESE LUXURY CARS SAY IT WOULD BE END OF THE ROAD (PART 1/2)

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Nissan's Infiniti division is in the midst of its biggest launch campaign ever for the new I30 sedan. But if the 100% tariff on Japanese luxury cars stays in place next month, Nissan Motor Corp. USA President-CEO Robert Thomas says Infiniti, Lexus and Acura "absolutely" will go out of business.

"There's just no way that can be absorbed in any consideration," Mr. Thomas told Advertising Age.

If the tariff holds and Lexus, Infiniti and Acura were to shut down, their massive ad budgets-a combined $345 million last year-would disappear.

"If the tariffs stick, you can forget selling any of those luxury cars, and you can forget any advertising on them," said William Jeanes, group publisher of Road & Track and Car & Driver. "In my two magazines alone, you'd be looking at a seven-figure hit."

So how are the Japanese marques coping?

"It's business as usual," a Lexus newspaper ad said last week. Lexus and agency Team One, El Segundo, Calif., prepared the ad ahead of time as a contingency. Lexus vows to step up product advertising in the next month to show its commitment to the marque, which since its vaunted 1989 launch has singularly raised the industry's standard for quality and customer satisfaction.

"Through all of this we must (continued)

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