When a fictional Russian president says, “I want the Lexus” while reminiscing about copulating with his ex-wife in one, it is either genius product placement or incredibly fortuitous for Toyota’s luxury arm that the writers of Netflix’s hit House of Cards like the brand.
Turns out it was great luck.
“This is totally organic, nothing we placed,” said Maurice Durand, a Lexus spokesman.
Here’s the story: Fictional Russian President Petrov scoffs at U.S. President Underwood’s proposal for a bilateral pact to put Russo-American troops in the Israeli-occupied Jordan Valley to achieve peace in the Middle East. I’m no expert on world politics, but that sounds far-fetched.
Petrov will only agree to this idea if Underwood meets some of Petrov’s loony demands. Fortunately for mankind, Underwood says no and instead offers a compromise that makes even less sense, but it inspires Petrov to laconically pontificate about cars.
“You know what the best part of the fall of the Soviet Union was? The cars.” says Petrov. “Have you ever driven a Lada? It was a coffin on wheels. But then, after the fall, we got the Lexus. The first time I [expletive] my ex-wife, in a Lexus. You could never do that in a Lada. No space. You see, Mr. President, I want the Lexus and you’re trying to sell me a Lada.”
Call the motorcade, Petrov is curtly escorted out.
Twitter has lit up with the phrase, “I want the Lexus, and you’re trying to sell me a Lada.”
Since Netflix started streaming season 3 on Feb. 27, Lexus marketers have fielded repeated questions from the show’s fans about whether or not the reference in House of Cards was product placement, Durand said.
Here’s a factoid, though. This is not the first time Lexus and a house of cards have joined pop cultural forces.
Lexus made an iconic commercial in 2009 featuring houses of cards to demonstrate that the 2009 Lexus ES has an engine so smooth it emits no vibrations. The houses of cards sit atop and around the car. The car is started, and while it is running, the cards all stay together. It’s only when the door is closed after the experiment ends that we see everything come crashing down.
Durand does not think the commercial influenced House of Cards to hold up Lexus as a metaphor for desire and world dominance.
Durand’s modest explanation: “I think it had a lot to do with alliteration between Lexus and Lada. Lexus and Lada sounds better than Lincoln and Lada does.”
And something tells me Lincoln would have had to pay for the reference that Lexus got for free.
In fact, it probably would have had to pay double.