Posted by Abe Sauer on May 27, 2011 10:00 AM
Following the news that NASCAR driver Kyle Busch received a speeding ticket while test driving a new $350,000 Lexus, it didn't take long for a few cynics to ask whether or not the whole thing was set-up to draw attention to the automaker's new LFA model supercar.
Absurd as the notion is, Lexus has been very willingly embracing alternative marketing lately.
Evidence is thin that any sort of deal between Lexus, Toyota, Busch or the dealership ever existed. (If there is a conspiracy theory to be had in Bush speeding 128 mph in a 45 mph zone, it's that the star NASCAR driving multimillionaire only got a slap on the wrist, when most other drivers of a similar offense would face immediate arrest.)
Several commenters on a Lexus fan site noted that, given the NASCAR demographic, Toyota would be far better off having Busch get busted in a Toyota instead of a Lexus. But then, as auto blog Jalopnik jokes about the conspiracy theory, "The last thing Lexus, or its parent company Toyota, would want to do right now is have anyone talk about one of their cars in the same breath as the words 'speeding uncontrollably.'"
Intentional or not (it's not), Lexus is certainly happy with all the attention. Mention of the incident has inspired articles like this one on Speed TV about the LFA. Twitter mentions of the LFA are also way up.
It's been a year since Lexus launched its "Dark Ride" project, which aimed to give the brand a little more edge and make even the thought of a naughty deal with Busch possible for the once Country Club Parking Lot auto brand.
Meanwhile, the brand is also going global. In France, the brand just executed the L'Expérience visionnaire par Lexus. The March 2011 show featured hip musician Medi and a wild 3D light show projected onto the Chateau de Saint Germain en Laye (top), all to generate some buzz for the CT 200h model.
Then there is product placement.
In addition to going literary by signing on as a sponsor of the new Australian TV series based on the novel Cloudstreet, Lexus is hitting the kitchen.
The Lexus Culinary Masters team, consisting of Michelin-starred, James Beard-ed, Food Network-hosting chefs, appeared at the recent Pebble Beach Food Wine Festival to cook for guest. According to a Toyota release, "Chefs Daniel Boulud and Michael Chiarello took a thrilling spin around the Laguna Seca racetrack in the Lexus LFA supercar." Yes, that same LFA model.
Yes, the same LFA model that Paris Hilton very publicly received for her birthday a couple months ago. Yellow, just like Busch's.
Yes, that same LFA model that audiences saw tearing through Europe as its passengers tore through each other's clothes in the final scenes of the blockbuster Fast Five.