Can you see with your ears? Lexus answers that, and other questions, in new campaign

The luxury auto brand plays up the curiosity factor as it touts vehicle features like an advanced sound system

Published On
Oct 04, 2019

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Lexus is getting inquisitive. For its newest campaign, the auto brand is asking questions like “Can you see with your ears?” and “What does exhilaration sound like?” in a series of 15-second ads that will run on TV and digital. The spots direct viewers to longer videos at for answers to the questions that simultaneously plug vehicle features.

The campaign, called “Our Greatest Curiosity,” aims to position the Toyota-owned luxury brand as one that responds to driver needs, down to the smallest details. “We are celebrating the curiosity that we have for our guests, our customers,” says Lexus VP-Marketing Lisa Materazzo. The approach, she says, “allows us to demonstrate many of the human-centric vehicle technologies and advancements that curiosity has inspired.”

Handled by Lexus agency of record Team One (part of Saatchi & Saatchi), the campaign will get significant media support starting today and will run until at least March 2020. Ads will run on network and cable, including during the World Series and college and pro football games. Custom content sponsorships are in the works with NPR, Spotify, iHeartRadio and Hulu.  

Getting viewers to visit a website after watching a TV ad is an oft-repeated, but hard to accomplish, tactic. Lexus, which plans to roll out nine of the 15-second ads, attempts to pull it off by diving deep into science and engineering topics related to how it designs and manufactures its vehicles. The result is a less-sales-y approach that is more about information-sharing than hawking cars.

The “exhilaration” video shows a girl pressed up against a glass wall separating her from a lion. A loud roar transitions into a scene of a Lexus traveling at a high speed. The corresponding long-form video goes into detail about how Lexus tunes engine components “as if they were musical instruments,” resulting in “four unique tones purposely crafted to reach specific frequencies as you accelerate.” The result, according to the video, is that “each note the vehicle produces connects you closer to its performance, forming a conversation between car and driver.”

With the “Can you see with your ears?” videos, the brand takes a deep dive into its sound technology, known as PurePlay 3D audio, which comes in the Lexus ES sedan. The short-video makes an analogy to how concert-goers, even with their eyes closed, can “hear” the locations of the drummer, guitarist and vocalist. The longer video plugs the audio system, saying the speaker design and placement make it possible to “sound more like you are at a live show than in a car.”

Scenes from all the videos are woven into a separate anthem spot (at top) that will also run on TV.

The campaign, which is part of Lexus’ ongoing “Experience Amazing” creative platform, comes after the brand suffered a setback in September, with monthly sales dropping 23 percent to 18,860 vehicles, according to Automotive News. The drop ended a two-month streak in which Lexus had outsold luxury rivals Mercedes and BMW, which both posted September gains.