Fans of Black Panther know exactly what Wakanda residents would think of gas – it’s primitive. They are the leaders in the newest technology and when it comes to cars, they’d obviously drive the latest and greatest. That’s why it makes sense that Lexus teamed up with Marvel to showcase its new electric vehicle with a new campaign highlighting the brand’s first ever battery operated electric vehicle, the RZ 450e. This is Lexus’ third collaboration with Marvel Studios just in time for the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, in theaters on November 2.
“At Lexus, we’re always looking for unique ways to amplify our messages through partnerships, integrations, engagement opportunities, anything above and beyond traditional media channels like broadcast TV or digital banners,” Mia Phillips, senior manager of advertising and marketing at Lexus, tells American Urban Radio Networks. “And what we love about Marvel is, they have a proven track record of making a concerted intentional effort to authentically connect with young diverse audiences through its content. So those themes of technology, innovation, luxury, and power, they’re ever present in Black Panther franchise. And they also happen to align quite nicely with the Lexus brand ethos as well.”
The commercial was directed by award-winning filmmaker Anthony Leonardi III, who was also involved with Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, and the Lexus “Parking Spot” ad that complemented Marvel’s Eternals. It centers around Okoye (Danai Gurira), general of the Dora Milaje, with some of her soldiers on a diplomatic mission. Okoye has to represent Wakanda in a different capacity but that doesn’t mean there’s no drama in tow.
“It is really fun to put my character in a situation where she is out of her element in the sense of having to take on diplomatic duties for her nation and step out of her comfort zone and of course finds an outlet. So I like the narrative,” says Danai Guiria. “I think it’s a great way to tease my character out in a different way, and I’m always excited about that. So, I thought the narrative was beautifully constructed and I’m excited to bring that to life.”
The Lexus LC 500 Convertible and the Lexus GX also make appearances in the 90-second spot, where General Okoye and the Dora Milaje make a swift getaway from their antagonists in the RZ 450e. It’s a luxurious and technologically advanced car cemented for the future.
“Lexus is really concerned about contributing to achieving carbon neutrality. And I think battery electric vehicles play a significant role towards realizing this sustainable mobility society,” says Phillips. “But some of the things that we do go above and beyond just having a battery electric vehicle in the marketplace. I think achieving carbon neutrality isn’t just a matter of eliminating the CO2 emissions from cars. You have to think about the entire life cycle of the vehicle.”
The process of creating the vehicles from parts procurement to manufacturing and the disposal of the parts are as sustainable as possible. The car has vegan seats and the plant that will manufacture the RZ early next year will implement strategies to limit impact on the environment.
“I know that there are other things that as a brand we’ll continue to do to again try to achieve this carbon neutrality that I think we’re all looking for,” adds Phillips. “And certainly battery electric vehicles are going to be increasingly important from the perspective of just social infrastructure and the storage and transportation and use of energy in the form of electricity.”
Gurira sums it up with her excitement about her experience with the brand and what the impact of this campaign could mean.
“It’s very cool to be part of Lexus’ campaign,” she says. “It’s really been a cool experience for exploring my character in a way that I haven’t, so that was very unexpected in the sense of saying, ‘Wow, we get to explore this whole other narrative for her while exploring how a new electric Lexus is about to impact the world.’”