With its latest film promoting its RX line of luxury SUVs, Lexus is the latest brand to turn to Chinese musical nostalgia to appeal to consumers.
The seven-and-half minute short film — the latest in the Lexus “Life Movie” series — explores intergenerational conflict and the power of music. A successful, Lexus-driving businessman struggles with his rock-obsessed son and his musical dream, urging him to give it up, as he himself did previously. But when the drummer in the son’s band can’t make a show, the father steps in to fill his shoes, and the two grow closer as the son learns the reason why his father gave up his musical career.
The father is played by Yu Qian, a popular Chinese xiangsheng (crosstalk) performer, who himself was in a rock group in his youth. The music featured is by 1990s indie band New Pants, which saw a resurgence of popularity among younger audiences this summer when it won iQiyi’s rock competition, “The Big Band” (乐队的夏天). The music allows Lexus to leverage the show’s success even though it was not an official sponsor (that role was filled by Buick).
The short movie closes with a black and white clip of a 1994 performance that inspired the Lexus film. In it, rock musician He Yong, in his last big concert, introduces his father, who plays a traditional Chinese stringed instrument. This scene further enhances the sense of nostalgia among Lexus’s target consumers, a relatively older, higher-income demographic.
The luxury crossover Lexus RX Hybrid seems like an unlikely player in the emotional drama, its polished surfaces and plush interior somewhat at odds with the grittier shots of the rest of the film. But viewers have not minded, with the film gaining an overwhelmingly positive reception and more than 3 million views on Weibo.
The film was directed by Yao Fei and promoted in a partnership with the Chinese edition of Esquire magazine.