The glitzy gala in Tokyo played host to a crowd of under-30 Tokyo trendsetters.

Photo credit: Hans Greimel
Who said foam parties ever lost their edge?
HANS GREIMEL

See the wild Lexus NX spot too retro for outside Japan

Who said foam parties ever lost their edge?

Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News.
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TOKYO -- Drifting cars, techno music, string bikinis and foam parties. At first glance, Lexus’ new “Shampoo” TV spot seems tailor-made for the trendy young crowd the luxury brand craves.

But the brilliant, visually enticing commercial for the new NX compact crossover won’t air stateside. It’s a Japan-only pitch that Lexus execs deemed too retro for beyond these shores.

Blame it on the foam party, that turn-of-the-century (21st century, that is) Eurotrash fad from the nightclubs of Ibiza.

While now a cringe-worthy memory for most hipsters in the U.S. and Europe, foam parties still carry currency in Japan. Or so, at least, hopes the spot’s creator, Japan ad giant Dentsu Inc.

“Apparently they are becoming popular here,” Mark Templin, executive vice president of Lexus International, said Tuesday at a foam-themed NX kickoff event beneath Tokyo Tower.

The glitzy gala played host to a crowd of under-30 Tokyo trendsetters, from upstart opera divas and too-cool disc jockeys to pink-haired traditional Japanese calligraphy artists.

Outside, under the wrought iron, orange-and-white legs of mammoth Tokyo Tower, Lexus set up an obstacle course-cum-car wash to show off the NX’s potential. Professional race drivers gave visitors a spin through its metal ramps and foamy shower.

The Lexus “Shampoo” commercial is cool mainly because of its anchor sequence, which depicts two racing NX crossovers drifting and spinning through a tarmac smothered in snowy bubbles.

The goal: Underscore the car’s performance credentials, Templin said. In the U.S. and Europe, by contrast, the NX message will focus more on the car’s edgy design, he added.

For starters, the European creative will feature American rapper will.i.am. While Templin offered no details of the U.S. ad plan, marketers there may use the Euro version.

The NX hits U.S. showrooms in November.

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

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