‘Product of Mastery’: 5 Questions With Lexus Marketing VP Cooper Ericksen


2019 Lexus ES

To introduce the next generation of its bestselling sedan, Lexus launched a new national marketing campaign, “A Product of Mastery,” that showcases the sophistication and performance of the new 2019 Lexus ES.

There’s a lot to work with: One 30-second TV ad, for instance, focuses intently on the stitching and ventilation holes in the front seats. The new version of the vehicle also includes Amazon Alexa connectivity and, in a Lexus first, Apple CarPlay compatibility. The Toyota-owned brand’s most advanced automated systems technology platform for guided driving, Safety Sense 20, is standard.

“The seventh generation ES creates an entirely new feeling of amazing through craftsmanship and innovation in every detail,” said Cooper Ericksen, Lexus vice president of marketing, in a press release. “The campaign highlights the provocative elegance behind every aspect of the all new ES.

Ericksen told brandchannel that the idea of “keying in on mastery” was a natural concept for the new campaign’s creative  because the 2019 ES is “the culmination of our almost 30 years of being a luxury brand and taking the best we’ve learned with all our efforts to improve, and manifesting itself in this brand new ES. It’s in line with a target customer who appreciates genuine, authentic craftsmanship and quality.”

ES is Lexus’ near-luxury sedan and sells about 50,000 units a year, one of the top-volume vehicles in the US premium market. Lexus LS is pricier and more luxurious, the brand’s sedan flagship, and GS is a rear-wheel-drive sedan with a performance bent and different styling. The Lexus IS is the entry-level sedan priced below ES.

Ericksen talked more with brandchannel about marketing the ES.

Why this creative tack for the new ES?

Cooper Erickson Lexus

It starts with having a great product to talk about. It’s our third vehicle that was redesigned under our new Experience Amazing [mechanical] architecture: first was LC, then LS. It’s a new direction for the brand and it fully lent itself to the idea of the product.

The styling of the new ES certainly bespeaks this direction.

The direction we’re going with ES is we’re taking what’s made ES great for all these years—which is obviously the quality, durability, reliability, value and peace of mind that it brings—but adding some new dimensions. The vehicle sits forward, is wider, and has a very coupe-like silhouette, so it’s a dramatic departure from a styling standpoint.

You’ve also got some other “firsts” going for ES. Can you explain?

It’s also the first ES ever to feature an F sport model [Lexus’s performance-trim version]. Previous models didn’t have the platform to accommodate that. We will be able to reach a younger buyer who enjoys more exciting driving dynamics in a car. And we’re really proud of the tech story. It’s the first Lexus product to have the Lexus Safety System +2.0 and we’re making it standard on the vehicle, not optional. It’s loaded with fundamental technology and we’ve added capabilities as the system has evolved, such as the ability to detect vehicles in low-light conditions, and to recognize and detect bicyclists in daytime conditions.

Still, this is a very mainstream luxury sedan. Is your media buying approach mainstream?

We continue to lean heavier into digital to reach our communications goals. Every vehicle is a bit different because of the target consumer. In the case of ES, we have a fairly traditional broadcast TV portion of the budget. The customer tends to watch a lot of live sports and different tentpole media opportunities. But we also have a large digital presence, with the use of big data, personal messaging and digital video.

Will Lexus ES have a new hybrid offering as well?

Our overall strategy is to make hybrid technology a competitive advantage for the Lexus brand. We’re on the fourth-generation hybrid system in ES and our overall goal is to increase our percentage of hybrids. It’s better for the environment and it provides fun-to-drive experiences.

Get more insights in our Q&A series.