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Super Bowl

Watch: Black Panther Stars in Lexus Super Bowl Ad

By Published on .

When most brands talk about luring younger buyers, millennials or Gen Z kids come to mind. But Lexus will settle for getting a few more fortysomethings in the fold. Aging down is one of the goals for Lexus' Black Panther-themed Super Bowl spot starring the Marvel superhero and the new 2018 Lexus LS 500 F Sport performance sedan. An extended cut of the ad was released today.

Lexus is targeting buyers ages 45 to 55 with the new LS. That's significantly younger than the average age of current LS buyers, which hovers in the upper 60s, according to the brand. Lexus vehicles don't come cheap—the suggested retail price for the flagship 2018 LS 500 is $75,000— so it's not surprising that a lot of younger folks can't afford them. This ain't Honda, after all.

But with the new LS, Lexus marketers are hoping to lure younger buyers who are more style and performance-minded, says Lexus Marketing VP Cooper Ericksen. "We are really opening up this LS product to a much broader audience than we've had in the last several years," he says.

The ad is by Lexus' multicultural agency, Walton Isaacson. A 30-second version will air in the third quarter of the Feb. 4 game on NBC. That is 12 days before the Marvel film, "Black Panther," hits theaters. The film tells the story of T'Challa, aka the Black Panther, as he returns home to an isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed his father as king.

The Super Bowl ad, called "Long Live the King," includes footage from the film, which stars Chadwick Boseman. Lexus has product placement in the actual movie with another model, the 2018 Lexus LC 500 luxury performance coupe. The LS is not in the movie, so the ad includes specially shot footage. The spot shows the Black Panther recovering stolen vibranium, a mythical ore found only in his African home, Wakanda. The ad's soundtrack is "Legend Has It" by Run the Jewels. It was directed by Samuel Bayer and shot in downtown Los Angeles at night.

Lexus earlier this week released a separate co-branded spot with Marvel that plugs the film and the LC. The Lexus-Marvel collaboration also includes a graphic novel called "Black Panther: Soul of a Machine" that was released last year at Comic-Con.

Super Bowl ads with superhero tie-ins are not new, of course. Marvel joined with Coke in 2016, for instance, in a spot that used Hulk and Ant-Man. And in 2005 Visa ran a spot featuring Captain America, Spider-Man and Thor.

The trick for brands is to make sure that the superheros don't overshadow their products. Ericksen says Lexus ensured the car was integral to the ad. The spot showcases the car's handling dynamics, for instance, he says. "There will be some people that see that ad and may think more Black Panther than Lexus," he concedes. "But I think on whole we are going to open up the Lexus LS to a massive amount of people that wouldn't have normally come across the LS."

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