Taxing Image

The folks at Team One Advertising couldn’t help but smile when Demo crats in Congress parked a shiny new Lexus in front of reporters on Capitol Hill recently.

While the idea was to demonstrate how the wealthy could dispro portionately benefit from President Bush’s proposed $1.6 trillion tax cut, there was no mistaking the product placement.

“They could’ve used a Mercedes or a BMW, but they didn’t. They used a Lexus,” crowed Brian Sheehan, co-president and CEO of the El Segundo, Calif., agency, whose key client is Lexus.

Of course, the Democrats made no mention of the car’s stylish design or smooth handling. They were focused more on how the tax cut would make fat cats even fatter.

“If you’re a millionaire, under the Bush tax cut, you get a $46,000 tax cut, more than enough to pay for this Lexus,” Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota told reporters. “But if you’re a typical working person, you get $227. And that’s enough to buy a muffler.”

Politics aside, Sheehan says the use of his client’s car as a prop only reinforces the brand’s image as a must-have for the well-heeled.

“I think it demon strates how Lexus has become the quintessen tial luxury brand in the United States,” he said.