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Branding And Performance Intersect For Lexus


brianLuxury automaker Lexus has set its sights on sports fans to sell a new 467-horsepower, high-performance vehicle.

The Toyota-owned auto company has created a branded game from the ground up called “GS F the Bracket” with Yahoo Sports to support the rollout of its new luxury sports sedan in tandem with the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament.

Lexus is also a presenting sponsor for Yahoo’s fantasy sports bracket and will run display, native and 30-second pre-roll video ads through early April to drive consumers to its branded GSFtheBracket.com website.

Once users hit the page, they must register to pick the player match-ups they predict will most quickly reach a combined 60 points for a chance to win a “GS F-inspired vacation.”

“With the amount of traffic Yahoo Sports generates and the natural excitement that goes on around this time of year with NCAA, this seemed like a very low-risk and positive opportunity for us,” said Brian Bolain, GM of product and consumer marketing for Lexus USA. “We do a lot of advertising across an array of sports and media types.”

There are two categories of consumers it’s after. First, there are those who have reached the peak of their careers and can spend $80,000 on a new vehicle. To this affluent group, Lexus hopes to introduce its new make from a branding perspective. 

On the other end are younger prospects in the aspirational stage who may be able to buy their dream Lexus car one day. In this case, Lexus might want to get them into the brand mindset, even if they’re not technically in buyer mode now.

“I think it’s really important that you start to nurture new advocates as early as possible, especially in an execution like this that gets us access to both types of audiences at the same time because they love sports,” he said.

For Lexus, targeting two very different audiences presented a way to blend brand and performance tactics.

Lexus Screen ShotAlthough TV remains an important medium to the automaker for obvious branding reasons, “when we begin a marketing campaign, we now say let’s think about the person first and see where that leads us,” regardless of channel or media type, Bolain said.

To do so, Lexus has invested in an addressable data strategy, working with Oracle Marketing Cloud’s data management platform to optimize its performance based on where the customer is in the Lexus life cycle.


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One way Lexus uses its DMP is to apply email and transactional data to alter its volume of media impressions based on a customer’s historical records, such as whether they just bought a new car.

Because its current activation with Yahoo asks fans to sign up and log into the GS F bracket platform, Lexus can match users’ email information to other interactions with the brand.

“For this campaign, some of the simple success metrics might be how many people clicked, registered or played, but we can also [use this game] as an [access point] to see if that person has registered for other Lexus activations,” he said. “We’re able to move to our DMP level of knowledge and ultimately take this further to see if there’s any way to match this back to a purchase.”

Mobile and video are topical to Lexus. Bolain estimates that more than 50% of consumers who “touch” the brand in digital are doing so on a mobile device. Thus, he sees more high-impact activations in the road map.

“I enjoy doing things where the consumer feels like if Lexus hadn’t done it, it wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “I’ve always been a much bigger fan of something we could create or own rather than something we just sponsor and put our logo on.”

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