Can you see with your ears? What emotion fits in the palm of your hand? Is it possible to outsmart fate? These are just a few of the questions Lexus poses in its new marketing campaign launching today. The campaign, called “Our Greatest Curiosity,” is a defining celebration of curiosity and the fascinating questions about humans that only Lexus asks, and therefore, only Lexus can answer.
“Thirty years ago, Lexus introduced its first vehicles to the world. The most important part of those cars, however, wasn’t the sheet metal, the engine or the technology,” said Lisa Materazzo, vice president of Lexus marketing. “It was the team of researchers who, in 1985, interviewed hundreds of consumers to understand them as humans: What moves them? What makes them tick? From the very beginning, our greatest curiosity hasn’t been the machine, it’s been the driver. It’s the inspiration for everything we do. From the products we craft to the dealership experience, it’s what makes us uniquely Lexus.”
Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.
I am the Group Creative Director, responsible for the core creative insight, and how it gets executed across all mediums.
Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?
Lexus is not like other car companies. While they are curious about machines, they are most curious about drivers. Human Centered Design has always been Lexus’ “secret sauce” and because their curiosity is different, Lexus asks different questions, and comes up with different answers that “drives” creative and campaigns.
Tell us about the details of the creative brief, what did it ask?
Exceptional quality and customer service is how Lexus broke into the luxury category, building one of the most respected brands in the world. Lexus makes exceptional machines, but the most powerful part of the Lexus story had not yet been told—everything Lexus does is driven by improving the human experience. Lexus machines are never inspired by machines—they’re inspired by people. We needed to reveal the humanity at the heart of the machine.
Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work?
Curiosity is the fuel of progress. But why just say that? What if we first celebrated curiosity? Then provoked it? And finally, satisfied it? Suddenly we’re no longer talking at consumers, we’re in conversation with consumers. And when we make them as curious about us, as we are about them, they will understand why our difference matters. That structure led us to asking how curiosity is best evidenced. Which quickly led to the idea of “search.” We all search. Every single day. We look up things on Wikipedia, YouTube, Google, etc. And the tool we use is always the same—a search bar. Once we realized the power of asking provocative questions, and inviting consumers to discover our insightful, human-inspired answers, we knew we were onto something simple and powerful. From that point, the campaign wrote itself. (Well, as much as that is possible.)
Can you share with us any alternative ideas (if any) for this campaign? Why was this idea chosen?
The final idea evolved from a spot we first wrote that featured objects from human history that best represented innovation and progress: The Guttenberg Press, The Lunar Lander, The Wright Flyer. Then the copy made the point that, “For Guttenberg, it was never about the press. For Armstrong, it was never about the Lander.” Then the copy wrapped up with the line, “Because the people who create the most amazing machines, aren’t inspired by machines.” When you imagine that commercial, it’s a pretty decent commercial, but it only celebrates curiosity. It doesn’t provoke curiosity. Nor satisfy it with a Lexus innovation. So, we kept thinking and landed on the work we shared.
What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development?
Writing provocative, human questions, that would make someone curious enough to find out how we answered them. That, and producing a mountain of work. You can’t call yourself curious and ask three questions. You need many, many elements. Ten teaser spots. An anthem. Sustaining spots. A website packed with ten brilliant films that answer the questions. Plus all of that again in digital, OOH, print, etc. Big ideas demand big production.
What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience?
Seeing ambition rewarded, and an entire team, across all disciplines, given the opportunity to scale a big idea to a huge idea, is incredible. My favorite moment was when we were down to two campaigns, and our client was asked if she knew which way she wanted to go, the first words out of her mouth were, “I’m not torn at all, this is the one.” Decisiveness takes courage. The team on this campaign inspired that courage with a simple, powerful idea. What did I learn? Safe is taken. Swing big.
Where do you see this campaign going in the future?
One of the most profound things about this campaign is that it’s not a campaign at all. This is what Lexus does. It’s always been what Lexus does. This human empathy leads to higher levels of hospitality and respect, that other car brands lack. Needless to say, it has its roots in a culture that is older than Lexus.