Team One Preps Intro for Lexus Hybrid

LOS ANGELES Publicis Groupe’s Team One will introduce its first campaign for the Lexus LS 600h L.

A spot breaking today on prime-time network television (including the NCAA basketball playoffs on CBS) shows a blistering montage of Mojave salt-flats speeders, rocket afterburners scorching the sky and race cars spinning out and burning rubber.

A voiceover says, “Fast is violent. Fast is gritty. Fast is explosive.” Then, in contrasting silence, the 600h is shown speeding through an abstract tunnel of light streaks. “This is the new fast. The 438 horsepower hybrid. This is the pursuit of perfection.”

Chris Graves, ecd at Team One in El Segundo, Calif., said the campaign is based on the principle of “misdirection,” because “all the things that you think of as fast have to be reexamined. We’re speaking to the paradigm shift.”

The spot treats the hybrid technology as an “advanced drivetrain, a super-progressive way to propel a vehicle,” not as just an eco-friendly alternative, Graves said.

The spot is one part of a larger brand initiative starting this month. “We are showcasing the emotional reasons to love the brand,” he said, adding that affluent consumers want to know that owning the vehicle means making “not one ounce of sacrifice.”

Six print ads break over the summer, explaining some of the latest Lexus innovations, such as infrared sensors, temperature controls for each seat and systems that guide parking and prevent crashes.

Robin Pisz, national advertising and media manager at Lexus in Torrance, Calif., said the LS 600h L “would help define the future of luxury vehicles. The innovation initiative is an opportunity for us to get out that message in a different way. Other than just talking about it, we’re demonstrating.”

The LS is a 8-cylinder hybrid that is expected to be released in the summer. Pricing starts at $110,000, and the vehicle competes with the Mercedes S, BMW 7 and Audi A8 class. Lexus has not disclosed the final fuel economy but preliminary estimates are over 20 miles to the gallon.

Lexus spent $300 million on advertising in 2006, about 10 percent on its hybrids, putting $20 million behind the RX 400h and $10 million behind the GS 450h, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

An earlier version of this post reported the engine size incorrectly.