HANS GREIMEL

No car? No problem for Lexus ad spot

Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News.
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TOKYO -- It’s not quite the “Rocks and Trees” show-no-car advertising campaign that Infiniti used, controversially, to launch itself in the United States in 1989.

But Lexus’ new “Swarm” TV spot comes close.

The car makes only a fleeting cameo at the very end of a 1-minute romp that is a cross between Star Wars and “Flight of the Bumblebee.” The video seems to have nothing to do with autos.

Watch it here.

Quirky, creative and fun? You bet. Your typical auto ad? No way. And that’s fine by Lexus.

“A lot of car guys won’t understand that,” Mark Templin, executive vice president of Lexus International, said at a screening before the Tokyo Motor Show. “And that’s OK.”

The micromovie features hundreds of saucer-sized, quad-rotored heli-bots buzzing amok through a sleeping city before closing the curtain on the spindle-grilled mug of the Lexus LF-NX Concept crossover. The airborne minicopters were 3D-printed by KMel Robotics, a startup that specializes in experimental robots and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The piece, which debuted last month, is the second TV segment in Lexus’ “Amazing in Motion” series, following the “Steps” project that aired in May. That first spot featured oversized mannequins brought to silent life in eerie realism by teams of puppeteers.

The common thread: Fantastical, fresh interpretations of how things move.

“It’s geared toward the design community and the creative class,” Templin said. “It’s brand enhancement. It’s about changing people’s perception about the Lexus brand.”

You can reach Hans Greimel at hgreimel@crain.com. -- Follow Hans on Twitter

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