Auto brands are going to new extremes to lure gamers. Honda recently revealed its new Civic on Twitch, and Ford used the Amazon-owned platform for a “live drive stream event” in which users could control an actual Mustang Mach-E on a custom-built, 100,000 square-foot interactive track.
Now Lexus is stepping up its marketing to the coveted demographic with a car made just for gamers. The Toyota-owned luxury brand today revealed the “Gamers’ IS,” a modified-version of the IS 350 F Sport sedan that is dressed up with a gamer-friendly design and features, including a custom-built gaming PC in the trunk with a high-def curved monitor in the passenger seat and a retractable keyboard and mouse platform, plus a 3D-printed game controller.
Yes, this is a marketing stunt. Lexus made only one of these. A brand spokeswoman says it “will likely become a show car and make the rounds of the auto shows once those come back.”
But the project shows the lengths brands are taking to appeal to gamers, and Twitch users in particular, as the rising popularity of the video game-streaming platform becomes a ripe target for marketers seeking to lure a demographic that tends to be on the younger side. Honda, which used the Twitch reveal to lure first-time car buyers, stated that 67% of Twitch viewers are under the age of 35.
Lexus is trying to drum up interest in its 2021 IS model, which the brand spokeswoman says is “aiming to reach its youngest customer yet.” The special gaming car is part of the “All In” campaign launched in January that features so-called “micro-influencers,” including sneakerheads, audiophiles, fashionistas and, yes, gamers. You can spot a gamer in one of the ads, which comes from Lexus agency-of-record Team One.
To build the gaming car, Lexus worked with a popular Twitch streamer who goes by the name Fuslie. She hosted a livestream last month that Lexus says drew more than 554,000 unique viewers who voted on features to include in the car, which include a gaming-themed exterior wrap and a “Neon Tokyo” interior style featuring what Lexus describes as “an electrified, neuron-exploding Japanese pop art aesthetic.” The car even has a fog machine.
“We asked for their help designing their dream gaming space, and they answered in spades,” Vinay Shahani, VP of marketing at Lexus, said in a statement. “Together, we created the ultimate fusion of design and performance in automotive and gaming.”
Lexus built the car with help from SCPS, a custom fabrication company in Southern California, which put 20 people in the project, including concept artists, designers, 3D modelers, electrical and structural engineers, metal fabricators, craftsmen, artists, custom upholsterers and computer technicians—"most of whom are serious gamers themselves” according to Lexus.