NEW LEXUS SUV GETS $35 MILLION AD LAUNCH

Broadcast and Cable TV Push Includes Print and Outdoor Support

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Toyota Motor Sales USA's Lexus launches advertising for its third SUV, the midsize GX 470, Nov. 18 with a $35 million national broadcast and cable TV campaign from Publicis Groupe's Team One Advertising, El Segundo, Calif.

The campaign's theme is "A new kind of adventure begins." Two of five new 30-second spots will air nationally and the others regionally from dealer ad groups. One of the national spots shows a worried GX owner driving through snowy mountain woods to save a friend who has fallen in the snow. When he arrives, the friend is making snow angels and is annoyed the SUV is late.

Having some fun
Mike Wells, vice president

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of marketing at Lexus, said, "We wanted to have some fun with this by not only showing drivers on expected rugged and scenic terrain but also capture them in unexpected situations."

The integrated campaign includes magazines, outdoor in 10 markets and online ads. To reach professionals, Lexus will have GX 470 banner ads on flat-panel TVs in elevators of office buildings in major cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Part of the print buy includes maps showing more than 30 U.S. destinations with luxurious adventures. Print is slated for January issues of Time4Media's Ski, Conde Nast Publications' Vanity Fair, Conde Nast Traveler and Gourmet and Golf Digest Co.'s Golf Digest.

The vehicle is positioned between the marketer's car-based RX300, which starts at $35,125, and the premium LX470, which has a base sticker price of $63,125. Lexus said it expects to sell more than 20,000 GX 470s annually.

SUV sales slipping
Early this month, the marketer reported it sold 192,155 vehicles in the first 10 months of 2002, a 5.5% jump from the same period a year ago. But in the same period, sales of both the RX300 and LX470 slid. Lexus said it sold 59,323 RX300s through October, a 6.1% decline from a year ago; LX470 sales slipped by 6.4% to 7,422 units.

Josh Peters, an auto analyst at Morningstar Research, said the more product choices Lexus offers, the more market share it stands to capture. Offering three different-priced SUVs is "not a bad strategy to have," he said. The only question is whether the new SUV will cannibalize sales of the other two in the lineup.

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