For all the so-called experts who “know what people really want,” it seems like luxury car company Lexus is a little off. Their latest commercial (watch the video below) has struck an off-keyed chord with Melbourne-based cellist Paul Ghica, a seasoned classical musician who’s not happy about it at all. While Lexus seems to be trying to re-brand their image as something not for the super-rich and be more “main-stream,” the recent attempt at reaching a younger, hipper demographic is off on a few notes. This letter from Paul expresses that misstep, and articulates a point that certainly needs to be made:
For years, you’ve been reminding us that you’re not our parents’ Lexus. You’re new, cool, and hip. In fact, you can be relied upon to remind us of your non-stuffiness almost every time you release a new stuffy model. And with each new model’s release, you prove time and again you have no pulse on what actually excites people. You shun risks and genius and call it perfection.
Never have you shown this more blatantly than in your new commercial. A commercial in which you bite the hand that feeds you. And you betray your cultural ignorance (as well as the mindset that has kept you vanilla for so long). And you’re a dick to people already struggling to make a living.
I don’t blame you for wanting to shed your image. At the moment, you are the menopause of cars. Thinking of you does nothing for my loins. However, you’re only ever one car away from changing all of that. And when you do find that car (hint: it probably won’t be a crossover/SUV), we’ll decide if you are or aren’t stuffy anymore. Infiniti pulled it off a decade ago with their G35. Most importantly, however, they did it without showing a defiant middle finger to the demographic that had kept them afloat until that point. The people that love and appreciate the music you ridicule above? They’re keeping your lights on.
About that music… You claim to passionately pursue perfection. Refinement. Class, timelessness, etc. And now, even excitement. And you do it by deriding none other than Mozart, who wrote some of the most perfect, refined, classy, timeless, and exciting music ever written. You then replace it with a monotonous, uninspired beat that will betray its age within a few years. Your commercial is an exercise in irony that might have actually been clever, had it been intentional. Or perhaps it’s finally the “honest” type of commercial after which consumers have been pining. Your actor, much like your cars, kicks genius to the curb, only to replace it with soulless sterility.
Lastly, as a prominent, globally-recognized organization, you should be helping people in your community, or at least leaving them alone… not harming them. And you certainly have harmed classical musicians here. Millions of people will see your ad. And you will have undone the hard work of so many musicians that, like you, are trying to reverse the stereotype society has cast upon them. These people (most of whom are not the geriatrics on death’s door as portrayed in your ad) have a hard enough time finding work, drawing in audiences, and refreshing classical music’s image. You’ve just made it harder.
So, job well done, Lexus. With your mind-numbingly insipid offerings thus far, you’ve ensured I’ve never been tempted to buy into your brand. And now, in one fell swoop, with your look-at-me-I’m-a-cool-kid-now commercial, you’ve ensured I never will.
Paul Ghica, stuffy cellist
Copyright Paul Ghica, reprinted with kind permission.