Super Bowl

Toyota Makes Big Super Bowl Buy, Lexus Returns With 'Black Panther' Ad

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Lexus displayed a specially designed 'Black Panther'-themed car at the Detroit Auto Show on Monday.
Lexus displayed a specially designed 'Black Panther'-themed car at the Detroit Auto Show on Monday. Credit: E.J. Schultz/Ad Age

Toyota, which sat out last year's Super Bowl, will make a big splash in this year's game with two 60-second spots. Meanwhile, Toyota-owned luxury brand Lexus will advertise in the game for the second year in a row. This time, Lexus will run a spot tied to Marvel's upcoming "Black Panther" superhero movie. The two brands join Kia and Hyundai as automakers that have confirmed buys in the Feb. 4 game on NBC.

Toyota's first ad will air in the first quarter and plugs its new global Olympics sponsorship. The second spot will run during halftime and be more vehicle-focused.

Toyota sponsors NBC's Super Bowl halftime report and will use the network's on-air talent to introduce the ad, said Ed Laukes, group VP for Toyota division marketing at Toyota Motor North America, who confirmed the buys during an interview Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Toyota has a tight relationship with NBC that includes its regular-season sponsorship of the "Sunday Night Football" halftime report. Laukes said the automaker regularly gets the network's point of view on themes and executions.

Laukes declined to reveal the creative themes of the halftime ad, which is by Toyota lead agency Saatchi & Saatchi. Still, it's safe to say Toyota will avoid anything with even the subtlest political undertones. "The more that we get away from politics in sports the better off we are," Laukes says. People "want to be entertained."

The Olympics spot will continue the global campaign Toyota began in October called "Start Your Impossible" that kicked off its Olympics deal. The campaign, a team effort by Saatchi & Saatchi in the U.S. and Dentsu in Tokyo, has plugged Toyota's so-called mobility solutions that extend beyond cars to include technologies like a wearable robotic leg brace designed to help disabled people walk.

Toyota in 2015 struck a deal with the International Olympic Committee making the automaker the official "mobility" sponsor for the games starting with the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea through the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. The Feb. 5 Super Bowl will be played just four days before the Olympics opening ceremony on Feb. 9. Toyota plans a heavy on-air presence during the games.

Lexus' Super Bowl spot will plug its 2018 Lexus LS sedan, the automaker announced at a morning press conference at the auto show. The brand confirmed to Ad Age that the ad would carry a Black Panther connection.The car goes on sale in February, which made the timing right for a Super Bowl spot, Lexus VP-Marketing Cooper Ericksen said in an interview. He declined to reveal the length of the spot, creative details or which agency would handle, other than it would come from one of Lexus' roster agencies. The brand's lead agency is Publicis Groupe-owned Team One. Walton Isaacson handles African American and Hispanic marketing, while IW Group is over Asian marketing.

Walton Isaacson is behind a "Black Panther"-themed Lexus ad that will run prior to the Super Bowl later this month. The automaker has a deal with Marvel that includes placement of the 2018 Lexus LC in the movie, which opens Feb. 16. A specially designed "Black Panther" car was on display during Monday's media preview of the Detroit auto show, which opens to the public this weekend.

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