Depending upon your point of view, a Toyota launch in Japan could be all about the car or all about the sizzle. Automotive News sides with the former, although the publication’s description of the recent launch party for the Lexus CT 200h suggests that the experience has left the car behind – not exactly at the starting line, but somewhere in the dust.
Music, models and all the Toyota girls the fire marshal allows
Toyota launches used to be corporate and static. Now, as Automotive News puts it, a Toyota launch is a “made-for-TV multimedia spectacle” loaded with “Toyota girls” and everything but the standard media question-and-answer session. When the 2011 Lexus CT 200h went on sale Jan. 12, the occasion was about everything but the car.
First came a piano concerto that was ostensibly “inspired” by the showcase Lexus. Then there was a DJ spinning club music for supermodels to dance to. The program quickly diverged into a discourse on bamboo, Japanese fashion and the lines of modern buildings. Somewhere along the way, Toyota was selling the 2011 Lexus CT 200h.
Bringing in Miss Universe for the hard sell
Toyota clearly knows that artsy ruminations can appear trendy, but it’s the sex that sells. The automaker brought in the reigning Miss Universe, Ximena Navarrete of México, to hype the 2011 Lexus CT 200h. While Miss Navarrete may actually know a great deal about cars, it seems what Toyota is going for here is sizzle.
When it comes to pretty girls and cars, 11-year-old Alec Greven of Castle Rock, Colo., author of the book “How to Talk to Girls,” has sage wisdom to impart:
“Pretty girls are like cars that need a lot of oil.”
If Toyota’s strategy is to dazzle journalists into not asking about such pesky things as the massive Toyota recall and the accompanying lawsuits, the company is going to need a lot more oil. Focusing on lifestyle – a tactic Toyota adopted with the introduction of the Ractis Japan-market subcompact – may bring an air of fun, but Toyota needs sales. Leaning away from the engineering aspect in sales presentations could be a very slippery gamble.