Exclusive: Lexus spends to defend its lead in luxury

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As it strives to overcome the narrow gap between it and its nearest competitor, Lexus will launch fall ad campaigns for its best-selling car and flagship sedan backed by $50 million in media spending.

The bulk of fourth-quarter budget for the luxury division of Toyota Motor Sales USA will go toward its ES 330 and LS 430 sedans

Although Lexus was the nation's best-selling luxury vehicle brand in 2002, its lead over BMW of North America was a mere 2,077 units, according to Automotive News. Through July of this year, BMW took the lead by 1,018 units.

Lexus continues to stand above competitors in consultant J.D. Power & Associates' annual owner surveys on initial and long-term quality, and creative for the new campaigns emphasizes that.

The work aims to show how Lexus is " constantly improving" the cars "to create a new benchmark," said Brian Sheehan, executive creative director at Publicis Groupe's Team One Advertising, El Segundo, Calif. "Lexus vehicles are just consistently made better."

tag remains

Both campaigns keep the brand's tag, "Passionate pursuit of perfection."

The ES 300, the marque's top-selling car, becomes the ES 330 this model year to reflect a bigger engine. Two national TV spots tout "the new, more powerful" car. "It was fast. We made it faster," the narrator says. The campaign breaks on TV today, and includes newspaper, outdoor and online ads. Magazine ads will arrive later.

The two 30-second TV commercials for the flagship LS 430 premium sedan break in late September.

Through July, Lexus sold 70,283 cars vs. 88,279 a year ago, according to Automotive News. The automaker's 2003 sport utility sales of 70,372 units vs. 47,568 a year ago bolstered total sales through July to 140,655, besting last year by 4,808 units.

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