Foam-filled Lexus NX spot too retro for America?

Drifting cars, techno music, string bikinis and foam parties. At first glance, Lexus' new "Shampoo" TV spot for the NX compact crossover that arrives in November seems tailor-made for the trendy young crowd that Toyota Motor's luxury brand craves.

But the visually enticing commercial (autonews.com/shampoo) won't air in the United States. It's a Japan-only pitch that Lexus execs deemed too retro for other markets.

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, 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 at a foam-themed NX kickoff event in Tokyo.

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.

"Shampoo" 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 vehicle's performance cred. In the U.S. and Europe, by contrast, Templin said the NX message will focus more on the crossover's edgy design.

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