Lexus changes gear with Drama on 4


Key Points

  • Lexus wanted to change perceptions and drive consideration of their brand
  • They sponsored Drama on 4 throughout the year
  • As a result, Lexus became the fastest growing premium car brand

The Challenge

Lexus was operating in a highly competitive luxury car market which was dominated by the big ‘German 3’ of BMW, Mercedes and Audi. The key challenge for Lexus was that they had a much lower media spend that their competitors and there was a high level of misattribution to their advertising – only 25% correct attribution.

In order to grow the brand, they needed to drive consideration of Lexus among potential customers. In particular, they wanted to increase awareness of the Lexus IS and push brand measures to get a positive result. With their media, they wanted to reach a younger audience (under 40), encourage viewer engagement with Lexus social media, drive search volume and also increase their share of voice against the ‘German 3’.

The TV Solution

Newcast, the branded content division within Zenith Optimedia, advised Lexus that long term sponsorship could help them achieve their objectives, if they found a property that reached an affluent consumer who would be more likely to be interested in buying a premium car and offered a consistent presence throughout the year. This would maximise the frequency of viewing to Lexus creative assets and so increase brand attribution as well as drive brand and model recall.

Newcast found the ideal property for Lexus in Drama on 4. This is Channel 4’s premium drama strand, running across both Channel 4 and More 4. It consists of talked about, award-winning critically acclaimed high rating programmes such as Homeland, Fargo, The Good Wife and The Mill. Drama on 4 is watched by a more up-market and wealthy audience versus the average TV viewer – 41% more up-market according to BARB. Drama on 4 viewers are more likely than the average population to be in the market for a premium car - index 166 (source: TGI). In addition, they are more likely to become fans of particular brands and products on social media networks and so maximises the potential of earned media channels – index 148 (source: TGI).

The sponsorship of Drama on 4 offered Lexus the perfect environment to get the brand noticed and to change viewers’ perceptions of Lexus.

The Plan

Of all the Lexus models available, the IS had the most significant sales targets in 2014 and so it was agreed that this would be the best model to start the sponsorship. Working with Channel 4, creative agency CHI and Newcast, they created the line “Lexus sponsors Drama on 4 – a powerful performance from the Lexus IS“. This line made the association between the brand and the drama content and also connected the sponsorship with the wider above the line campaign. It also helped promote the performance credentials of the Lexus IS.

The sponsorship ran for the whole year with idents at the start, the end and in each centre break of all drama on 4 programming. The sponsorship idents had the same look and feel as other Lexus IS marketing activities, ensuring that attribution to Lexus was maximised. 

Lexus’s logo was included on marketing material that promoted the dramas – on and off screen. In addition, Lexus encouraged their network of dealers to promote the content across their social channels and publicise their association through their blog, reaching their fans and encouraging them to watch the programme.

The sponsorship had a positive impact on IS and so the sponsorship evolved in October 2014 to support the next primary model launch, the Lexus NX with new sponsorship idents.


  • In total, the sponsorship delivered around 3,200 ABC1 Adult TVRs – an average of 266 TVRs every month
  • Over 3.7 million viewers watched the launch episode of Fargo, an average of almost 2.3 million viewers watched each episode of The Mill and 2.8 million tuned in to Homeland. These programmes delivered a mass of the right people for Lexus.
  • In 2014, the sponsorship idents were seen over 42 times by almost 75% of ABC1 Adults – a much higher frequency that the spot advertising.
  • Correct brand attribution grew from 25% pre sponsorship to 67% by July 2014 – an increase of 168%. Channel 4 drama viewers were 25% more likely to name the brand correctly versus non-viewers.
  • Consumer Insight found that 81% of premium car buyers that watched Drama on 4 would consider buying the Lexus IS compared to 49% of non-viewing premium car buyers. This uplift of 65% is way above Channel 4 norms.
  • Similarly, awareness of the Lexus IS increased from 25% to 43% - a growth of 72%. There were also statistically significant awareness uplifts for the CT, GS, RX and LS.
  • Viewers to the Drama on 4 programming were significantly more likely to agree with statements such as “Lexus make cars with great handling”, “make cars with great performance”, “make cars that are enjoyable to drive”, “make exciting cars” and “make cars that stand out from the crowd”. On average, the brand image uplift was 37%.
  • In 2014, Lexus spot advertising had a 10% share of voice amongst their competitive set.  However, when the sponsorship was included, this increased to 22%
  • 25% of viewers became a fan of Lexus by liking their Facebook page and 15% shared content from the Lexus Facebook page versus 2% and 1% respectively of non-viewers
  • 24% of viewers have posted a tweet about Lexus and 29% have followed the Lexus twitter feed compared to 5% and 0% respectively of non-viewers
  • 37% of viewers have searched online for Lexus versus 8% of non-viewers
  • Reach of 30 to 39 year olds increased from 42% pre sponsorship to 58% by June 2014
  • They have continued the sponsorship into 2015

We’ve been delighted with the results from the sponsorship so far. From a sales perspective, Lexus is now the fastest growing premium car brand and undoubtedly the Drama on 4 sponsorship has played a large contribution to this.

Lisa Fielden Lexus Brand Communications Manager


Sector: Automotive

Brand: Lexus

Campaign objectives: To change perceptions of the brand, to improve attribution and to drive awareness

Target Audience: ABC1 Adults/premium car buyers

Budget: Undisclosed

Campaign Dates: The sponsorship ran for the whole of 2014 and has continued into 2015

TV Usage: Sponsorship idents

Creative Agency: CHI

Media Agency:  Newcast

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