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Lexus' reputation dangles from a crane

Posted by Bill Griffith  January 19, 2011 12:53 PM

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We're already looking forward to the clever TV ads we'll see during the Feb. 6 Super Bowl, especially now that the commercials are more important because the Patriots won't be playing the game.

Lexus caught many eyes with a new spot that features five of its vehicles suspended from a crane, starting with an LS, and followed by an RX, GS, ES, and IS. The bottom four are being held up by the strength of the LS unibody.

As a finale to the ad, Lexus parks a $375,000 LFA luxury sports car below the five vehicles. Total weight suspended above it: 21,000 pounds. It's a far cry from the company's annual Lexus-with-a-big-bow holiday ads, and another crack at physics to follow last year’s LFA commercial, which showed the car’s V-10 exhaust shattering a champagne flute.

Whether the stunt can quickly restore the company's prestige, damaged by a highly-publicized fatal accident in 2009 that spurred several Lexus recalls and every Toyota model last year, remains to be seen. Competition from the new Hyundai Equus, which recently won a Car and Driver test against a Lexus LS 460, surely isn't helping.

"We feared it would be so unbelievable that we invited a physicist and structural engineer to witness the shot to prove it did occur without the use of special effects or computer-generated imagery," said Dave Nordstrom, vice president of marketing for Lexus, in a press release.

However, Lexus did conduct a pre-shoot test. A pair of big wreckers, the type that move 18-wheelers, hooked up on each end of an LS with one serving as an anchor and the other pulling. Instead of holding 21,000 pounds, the LS held on for 29,000 pounds. That means that if the crane were big enough, another Lexus could have joined the chain.

Because photo shoots never are accomplished in one take, the cars were suspended repeatedly over a three-day period without any having to be replaced.

The Lexus campaign, called "The Hard Way," can be viewed here.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
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Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
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