Posted by Dale Buss on November 1, 2011 07:00 PM
"November" rhymes with "December." And, what the heck, it's almost the last month of the year. So Lexus — and its sibling Toyota brand — are jumping the gun on the auto industry's holiday-season promotion programs by launching their iconic December to Remember and Toyotathon promotional programs today, about three weeks ahead of their usual schedules, and probably at least that long before Americans are really in the mood to see car-sales commercials featuring fluffy snowflakes.
"This year, because of production disruptions we had throughout the year, and now we have the inventory we need coming out of that, we've decided to start early," Mark Templin, general manager of Toyota's Lexus luxury brand, told reporters on a conference call. "Before long you'll be seeing our traditional icon of the holidays, the big red bow."
As Lexus shows off the 2013 GS (above) and other models at the SEMA luxury auto show in Las Vegas this week, enhanced zero-percent-interest loans and special leases on many Toyota and Lexus models already are in place under the umbrellas of these popular holiday programs. But the automaker's brand stewards also understand that American consumers aren't quite ready on the day after Halloween to shift into a Christmas commercial consciousness, so marketing of the promotions won't start until "closer to Thanksgiving week," commented Bob Carter, general manager of the Toyota division.
"We'll be just as happy," Templin said, "making this a November and December to remember."
There was no early word on whether any of either brand's competitors would join them in making merrier incentives quite this early, though just about every automaker now annually stages some kind of formal winter-holiday promotion program that crescendoes at the end of the year. And the fact that the industry experienced in October it strongest monthly, seasonally adjusted selling rate of the year means that we aren't likely to see the broad onset of significantly enriched incentive programs as the year winds to a close.
But Toyota and Lexus did make things a tad more interesting with their early Christmas presents. "Special messaging helps a lot" with any incentive program, said Jessica Caldwell, senior U.S. sales analyst for Edmunds.com. "Sometimes automakers scratch their heads about what other kinds of tricks they can pull out of their bags. This looks like something they could use."