LOS ANGELES -- Lexus knows that the target audience for its redesigned IS 250 and IS 350 sedans routinely skips TV commercials with devices such as TiVo. So it is taking an interactive approach to launching the cars.
Lexus will create a mosaic of photographs of people that will become a giant picture of an IS sedan. The company will broadcast the mosaic image online at lexus.com and show it on a giant screen in New York's Times Square.
People who submit photos to Lexus will be told where their picture is located in the mosaic. As part of the display, they can ask Lexus to broadcast their photo at a specific time in Times Square.
The mosaic program goes live Sept. 3. Visitors to the Lexus Web site who express interest in the car get first crack at submitting photos.
The redesigned IS sedans go on sale in October.
Lexus also will market the car with chalk drawings that create three-dimensional images on sidewalks. Starting this month, Lexus will use artists' drawings of the IS in conjunction with product placement of the car at the U.S. Open tennis championships in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Lexus says the chalk drawings will appear in other venues but did not provide details.
These efforts are aimed at 30- to 45-year-old professionals who want to own an "aspirational sport sedan," says Bob Carter, Lexus Division's general manager. By Lexus' definition, it's a car trendy enough that cool people know about it, but one that not everyone is aware of.
Lexus will not ignore traditional media to market the IS. To direct the car's TV campaign, the luxury brand has enlisted Francois Vogel, who made award-winning ads for the HP Photosmart Printer that appeared to create photographs out of thin air.
The Lexus commercials will show the IS "living in multiple environments simultaneously," Carter says. "The look will have an upscale fashion-designer feel while still clearly being about the car."
The campaign's print ads will be less about displaying the car and more about hooking readers. The ads will have catchy headlines such as "I was living a lie," "I cheated," and "It all started innocently enough."
The ads feature pictures of hip 30-somethings who look vaguely compromised. They will describe how these consumers strayed from their faithfulness to their previous cars - typically German sport sedans - when they drove a Lexus IS.
Lexus' marketing also will take potshots at competitors that try to straddle the divide between performance and entry-level luxury. Lexus says it can provide the IS sedans for the former and the ES 330 for the latter.
Lexus faces a big challenge in launching the IS sedans. Lexus wants to sell 40,000 of the cars annually in the United States. That's a big jump from last year, when Lexus sold 9,972 IS 300 units. The IS 300 peaked in 2001 with 22,486 U.S. sales.
You may e-mail Mark Rechtin at