Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How Lexus Is Spreading Sustainability Message to African Americans

So far, Toyota’s luxury imprint has shown it has been able to sustain its message of sustainability in a volatile economic market that hasn’t been kind to cars. Lexus now sells three vehicles that feature hybrid technology, has a manufacturing facilities with a zero landfill policy and a commitment to using sustainable and recycled materials in the building of vehicles. It even has a Lexus Hybrid Living Web portal dedicated to celebrating “the ethos of luxury eco design: living life with less impact on the earth while enjoying maximum luxury, comfort and style.” Recently, Lexus turned its green marketing communications to the African American community. In February, the brand returned as sponsor of Essence magazine’s Black Women in Hollywood pre-Oscars awards luncheon honoring actresses Halle Berry, Diahann Carroll and Taraji P. Henson along with director Gina Prince-Bythewood. At the event, the Torrance, Calif.-based automaker hosted a WaltonIsaacson-designed green gifting suite to show off its eco-friendliest models and align with other brands in the space. Brandweek spoke to MaryJane Kroll, Lexus National Advertising, about the intersection of marketing green and luxury to the African American market.

Brandweek: What does “green luxury” mean to consumers? It sounds like an oxymoron because we think of green as cutting back and sacrificing.

MaryJane Kroll: Our environmental commitment is incredibly important to us and a key tenet of our corporate philosophy on down to our products’ manufacturing processes to what we try to do in our facilities. It’s something were always working on and always trying to communicate. Our hybrids products in the luxury realm obviously establish us as a leader because we don’t have any competition, or at least not until recently with Cadillac SUV hybrids. So this has been an area where we’ve been able to establish our leadership and continue to build upon it as we introduce more products and as we build lifestyle programs around them to help people understand what the offering is.

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