American Marketer


Lexus tours Australia to give consumers branded experience

July 25, 2014

Lexus in Australia Lexus in Australia for "Lexus Amazing Experience"


Toyota Corp.-owned Lexus is inviting fans to explore Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, with a "Lexus Amazing Experience" travel program Nov. 3-8.

The curated adventure aims to capture brand codes, while giving a full sense of the country's culture. Auto brands are increasingly weaving experiences to convey lifestyle dimensions to consumers, making it both easier to enter extension categories and also to cement relationships.

"This is really nothing more than another sponsorship deal," said Rob Frankel, branding expert at marketing consultancy firm Frankel & Anderson, Los Angeles. "The only difference between this trip and any other is that this one will have Lexus stickers slapped on everything that stickers can be stuck to."

Mr. Frankel is not affiliated with Lexus, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Lexus did not respond by press deadline.

From the brand

The trip to Australia is part of Lexus' "Amazing Experience" enterprise. The brand hosts travel programs for consumers ranging from golf outings to Super GT races.

Lexus' Australian trip represents a more ambitious attempt to reel in consumers. The five-day escapade will spend time in Melbourne, where guests will attend the Melbourne Cup Carnival.


Lexus Amazing Experience promotional image

Broadcast to over 700 million viewers, the carnival is a highly anticipated thoroughbred racing event.


Melbourne Cup Carnival

The brand sets up a pavilion where guests can mingle with celebrities and enjoy a luxury experience.

The Lexus Experience at the Melbourne Cup Carnival

Guests will also traverse the forests and Yarra Valley of Melbourne in Lexus vehicles such as the IS, ES, GS and RX.


Yarra Valley in Melbourne

After the nature excursion, guests will drive along part of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix course.


Albert Park in Melbourne

Art is incorporated into the trip during the "Sculpture by the Sea" event at Bondi Beach in Sydney. More than 100 sculptors will exhibit pieces on the shore.


Sculpture by the Sea

Attendees will split their time between the Park Hyatt Sydney, the Grand Hyatt Melbourne and the Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort and Spa in Yarra Valley.

Lexus will provide five breakfast meals, four lunches and four dinners.

Guests can elect to add a winery tour, golf outing and zoo excursion to the trip for additional fees.

The trip costs about $7,440 per person, not including transportation needed to get to Australia and other considerations. Solo travelers are not allowed to book the trip, up to 16 people will be accommodated and participants must be able to speak English or Japanese.

Interested consumers can learn more here.

Beyond the showroom
Although vehicle capabilities and pricing should be the big distinctions at the end of the day, automakers have to build an emotional connection with consumers to instigate a sale. Many brands curate events to achieve this goal.

For instance, Bentley Motors is opening up registration for its 2015 Power on Ice program in northern Finland.

The Power on Ice series allows loyalists to test the capabilities of Bentley models in icy conditions and to receive a holistic brand experience while lodging for four days in a luxury setting. As auto brands continue to close performance gaps, the experiences provided in events like this will become a major differentiating point (see story).

Also, Italian automaker Maserati is calling model owners from around the world to celebrate its centennial Sept. 18-20 in Italy.

The brand has steadily built up interest in the 100 year anniversary with gradual releases of content, a revamped product line and commemorative products. The culminating celebration will be a chance for the brand to gauge the brand loyalty of its core consumer base, while also gathering lasting social content (see story).

However, sometimes events have little connection to a brand and can fail to leave a mark.

"This is more a distraction promotion," Mr. Frankel said. "Where agencies can't think of anything compelling to say about the brand, so they attach a celebrity or event to it. One more brick in the wall of incompetent advertising that's strategically bankrupt."

Final Take
Joe McCarthy, staff writer on Luxury Daily, New York