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Lexus "Dark Ride" An Interesting New Avenue In Car Marketing

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On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 6:24PM | By: John Welch

Lexus "Dark Ride" An Interesting New Avenue In Car Marketing

Lexus has come to the conclusion that auto advertising does not involve you, the customer, quite enough. In fact, Lexus would like to extend to you the opportunity to control their commercials yourself. Such is the case with the innovative 13-minute featurette: "Dark Ride."

The movie puts you in the passenger seat as Norman Reedus, of "Boondock Saints" fame, does his best to pilot the Lexus CT 200h prototype to a Lexus "safe house" before dawn. Making you the navigator, Norman is screwed if you don't tell him where to go. That's right, you become a part of the commercial, guiding the Norman and the CT 200h through side streets and away from mysterious road-going "bad guys".

“With ‘Dark Ride’ we are creating a unique virtual test drive opportunity so consumers can experience this hybrid, that is like no other, months before it is available at dealerships in early 2011,” said Dave Nordstrom, Lexus vice president of marketing. “In it, consumers play a co-starring role as the fun-to-drive Lexus CT 200h is put through its paces. By guiding the driver and the CT through a series of adventures, customers will be exposed to ‘The Darker Side of Green,’ which is completely different than the way hybrids are usually portrayed.”

The film releases online at www.lexusdarkride.com today along with the trailer for the film, which will appear in select movie theaters across the country. Visitors to the www.lexusdarkride.com site will get to insert themselves into the film, sitting beside “Tony” (Reedus), and navigating while he drives the CT 200h from the Nevada desert to a Los Angeles safe house and protects it from a variety of enemies who wish to get their hands on the new prototype.

Consumers will use an array of interactive features in the film—allowing them to insert their own likeness (via a Webcam or profile pic), record their own dialogue lines, control the camera movement and POV, and make decisions that alter the path of the film so new situations arise each time.

What better way to increase Internet traffic? By inserting a "Choose Your Own Adventure"-type plot into an auto ad, Lexus has created a never-ending experience that will have potential customers returning to their site again and again.

From the Toyota NewsRoom:

'The “Dark Ride” film is the next step in the launch of the Lexus CT 200h and demonstrates Lexus’ marketing theme, “The Darker Side of Green.” This theme, which shines a different light on this new breed of a fun-to-drive hybrid, debuted at a star-studded event prior to the CT 200h’s North American debut at the New York International Auto Show in April. This initiative will continue through the launch period with in-market custom events and a VIP marketing program that will give tech-savvy influencers access to an edited “Dark Ride” list of restaurants, clubs, bars, and lifestyle brands. Brand partners include Duncan Quinn bespoke suits, VeeV Açaí Spirit, The James Hotel and Grand Hospitality for The Soho and Tribeca Grand Hotels.'

'The all-new CT 200h premium compact hybrid will go on sale in the U.S. in early 2011 as the first dedicated hybrid vehicle in the premium compact segment. Expected to lead its class in fuel economy, the stylish, sporty five-door also delivers a dynamic, fun-to-drive experience. The CT is powered by a 1.8L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gas engine with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) and Lexus Hybrid Drive technology. The CT will be equipped with four drive-modes: Normal, Eco, Sport and EV.'

An interesting marketing scheme for an interesting car. Competing in an emerging segment that includes but is not limited too the Honda CR-Z, the CT 200h is certainly the most intriguing Toyota hybrid since the original Prius.

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