MSN, Lexus Launch Luxury Web site

Luxury carmaker Lexus and MSN have launched a co-branded Web site on MSN looking to lure high-end customers with the type of content that appeals to them: jazz music, business and political news, and travel information.

The site, called “Luxury for Living,” takes a soft-sell approach to hawking the Toyota subsidiary’s pricey line of sedans and SUVs, featuring Lexus logos and a few buttons offering further information. But rather than focusing solely on the products, the co-branded site offers a wealth of content from MSN properties and partners, including video clips from MSNBC, articles from Slate, and travel information from City Search and Expedia, designed to appeal to high-income consumers.

“We were looking for a way to reach customers in a way that’s meaningful to them and not intrusive,” said Mike Wells, vice president of marketing for Lexus. “Lexus luxury is about respecting your time, engaging the senses, and providing a more personal and individualized experience.”

Wells said Lexus realized that it needed to entice Web users to interact with its content instead of bombarding them with intrusive advertising, such as pop-up ads.

“It’s truly designed to allow users to make the most of their time and to seek activities that allow them to live life to the fullest,” he said.

The co-branded Web site is not Lexus’ first foray into using interactive advertising to attract consumers’ attention. In 2001, it was one of the first advertisers to run a campaign on TiVo, offering viewers a chance to win a Lexus ES 300 in return for viewing a commercial.

Toyota, Lexus’ parent company, has made the Internet central to some of its brand launches, including its Scion line last year.

While mini-sites are nothing new, MSN hailed the Web site as a first, because it combined the high-end value of a luxury brand with the reach of a Web portal, to mine MSN’s trove of content for material that would appeal to the typical Lexus customer.

“MSN is constantly evaluating ways to offer advertisers more exciting and appealing ways to engage the millions of consumers that visit the MSN network,” said Joanne Bradford, MSN’s vice president and chief media revenue officer.

In addition to MSN content, the companies said the site would feature editorial created exclusively for the site, along with personalization features from MSN: stock alerts, stock portfolios and maps.

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