Lexus goes ahead with RX spots

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After an initial blackout during news coverage of the war in Iraq, Lexus will proceed with creative for its $65 million SUV ad campaign that pokes fun at German and Italian competitors with the theme, "Putting the automotive world on notice. Again."

The teaser effort for the 2004 RX330 SUV broke March 17 on national broadcast and cable TV, and two days later was pre-empted on news programming of the war. But the Toyota Motor Sales division said it still plans a two-week run for the teaser, followed by a trio of national :30s tentatively slated for March 28.

Lexus executives are trying to maintain as much of its original TV programming schedule for the RX launch "as they feel is appropriate under the circumstances," a company spokesman said.

`relief'

Mike Wells, Lexus VP-marketing, said the humor in two of the launch spots from Omnicom Group's Team One Advertising, El Segundo, Calif., "provides some welcome relief" from the Iraq conflict, though he added that Lexus is "staying very acutely aware of consumer sensitivity" and will monitor the situation.

The push is to be brand's biggest-ever ad launch. The introduction for the second-generation RX300 is crucial because the SUV is the best-seller for Lexus, the nation's best-selling luxury brand last year for the third straight year.

The TV portion of the media buy is heaviest in April and May, and includes spot TV, news programming, NCAA basketball and National Basketball League games. Print spreads are slated for April auto-buff magazines and in consumer-lifestyle titles in May and June. The media buy includes a dozen Web sites and outdoor.

Todd Turner, president of auto marketing consultancy Car Concepts, believes Lexus will meet its annual sales target of 75,000 units of the new vehicle.

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