He's driving, you're just along for the ride. (Photo: Joel W. Henderson for LexusDarkRide.com)
The old way of promoting a car was to run TV and magazine ads, and associate the new model with an aspirational lifestyle. But that's the way grandpa did it. The new way is to film a 12-minute high-def interactive video with movie stars that connects to Facebook, post it on the web, then Twitter it to get some buzz. Tap into their webcams, too, so they can "talk" to the high-watt actors.
Toyota has done exactly that to promote its new and rather angular Lexus CT 200h hybrid car. The Lexus, which comes out in early 2011, is a "premium compact" hybrid, and not based on a conventional version. With a 1.8-liter Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine, it should offer excellent fuel economy, though that's not been released yet.
Lexus Dark Ride, which debuted Friday afternoon, stars Norman Reedus of Boondock Saints fame and is a spy thriller/Fast and Furious kind of thing, with lots of off-the-wall driving and folks getting shoved around. Reedus is the unshaven Tony Driver, a handy man behind the wheel. You get to be the passenger, interacting with a very gruff Reedus, who in a carryover from the Saints still sounds vaguely Irish (he's not). The mission: deliver the 200h safely, dodging goons who want to steal its trade secrets.
Reedus, who lives in New York and actually rides a bicycle for daily transportation, was in Los Angeles this week and talked to Daily Green. He gave us some insights into the Lexus movie magic. "Some feature films I've been in didn't make as much effort as they did here," he said. "The director was awesome."
Reedus never actually sat in, much less drove, a 200h. "The car hadn't been built yet," he said. "It was a prop, basically. Much of it was a green screen, though I did get to drive a similar car in the diner scene."
The film finally went live on Friday, and Reedus said he got to see a bit of it on his laptop. "But it was hard to hear with a million people around," he said.
I can sympathize. I got about halfway through it twice and had sound problems on my laptop. Though it definitely looks fabulous, and the interactive features are cool.
Reedus describes hybrid cars as "the wave of the future." The 200h, he said, is "compact, sleek and sexy, without that soccer mom, minivan vibe." Newly green, Reedus said he is "trying to educate myself on being better for the planet. I didn't pay much attention to it in my youth, but now I'm getting older and smarter. That oil spill kills me."
Next for Reedus, if he can raise the money, is directing I Was a White Slave in Harlem, from the book of the same name. "It's great, it's about a woman who was kept as a sex slave by a big heroin dealer in New York." Well, that certainly won't be Boondock Saints III, or Dark Ride Redux.
Sarah Silverman moderated an interesting panel discussion about global warming recently at an event marking the debut of the Lexus 200h. The Daily Green was there. Take a look:
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