Revisiting the 1998 Lexus GS 400 “Something Wicked This Way Comes” Marketing Campaign

No better time than a Friday afternoon to look back at one of Lexus’ most successful marketing campaigns ever — the still impressive Something Wicked This Way Comes commercials for the 1998 GS 400:

There were also two print ads:

Lexus GS 400 Something Wicked This Way Comes 1

Lexus GS 400 Something Wicked This Way Comes 1

The second-generation GS had a huge impact on how people perceived Lexus, and this marketing campaign played no small role in that attitude shift — this quote from Bob Garfield of Advertising Age is a perfect example:

…pay close attention to the Shakespearean “when something wicked this way comes.” The line, embellished by lines of Mock-beth, appears in every spot, announcing for a dubious audience a Lexus sport sedan that for once is not predictable, insulating, sluggish and tame. This one is not only fast, these ads suggest, it has a touch of evil.

The organ music in the minor key does nothing to undermine that impression, nor do the image of the fallen leaves igniting and the Lexus GS 300 400 speeding through the woods leaving a conflagration in its wake. The car is nearly as striking as the ads. The claim of monstrous performance is communicated to a fare-thee-well, and the listless, vanilla Lexus is finally imbued with a fearsome character with which to battle the brawny German competition.

No doubt these commercials (and the 2GS) are on my mind due to the imminent arrival of the fourth generation GS. Could this new model create a similar effect? Sure, it’s only the early days and there’s still so much left unknown, but I have a great feeling about this car — what do you think? Can this new GS bring back the glory days of the original GS 400?

[Source: Neal Hughlett]


Comments

  1. Still to this day evokes emotion, the ad and the car. I vividly remember seeing my first brochure with the quad lamps and my first GS driving on W. Peachtree St in Atlanta.


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  2. CIF

    A legendary marketing campaign!


    Sad to see that now, if you want a V8 in the GS, it's only available in the GS F.


    I hope to see the return of a V8 to the regular GS lineup once again.