Lexus, one of the most prominent brand backers of Black Panther, is back for the sequel — this time using the movie to plug an electric vehicle.
The campaign, called “An Electric Future,” features the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e, Lexus’ first battery-electric vehicle. A 90-second ad features members of Wakanda’s all-female Royal Guard, the Dora Milaje, led by General Okoye (played by Danai Gurira). Lexus’ deal with Marvel Studios also includes product placement in the movie, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which reaches theaters Nov. 11. The Lexus LC 500 Convertible and the Lexus GX can be seen in the film.
Lexus was the second Black Panther sponsor to release a movie-themed ad, following Sprite.
The Lexus campaign comes from Walton Isaacson, Lexus’ agency of record for Black, Hispanic and LGBTQ+ audiences. The shop also handled the collaboration with the 2018 original Black Panther, including a Super Bowl spot.
In a behind-the-scenes video, agency, brand and Disney executives talk about how Lexus and Marvel brought it to life. “Representation is huge and this TV spot having such a powerful female cast, all-Black, I can’t wait to see my daughter’s face when she watches this,” said Diori Thomas, creative director of Walton Issacson.
The commercial was directed by Anthony Leonardi III, whose credits include an illustrator role on Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame. “I hope people watch the ad and feel like they are in a great movie. For each Lexus spot, I treat the vehicle like a character, so like a Marvel character, the RZ 450e is the hero. It is the star,” Leonardi said in a statement.
Lexus’ decision to use a pricey marketing asset follows a recent trend of automakers spending big money to raise consumer interest in EVs as brands plow billions of dollars into their development. The RZ 450e compact electric crossover is due out next year and begins Lexus’ planned transition to an all-EV lineup by the next decade.
“The technology, creativity and imagination we encounter in the futuristic nation of Wakanda is a natural fit for the sustainable, global society Lexus envisions with the introduction of our most advanced vehicle ever, the fully electric RZ 450e, further extending our electrified vehicle portfolio,” Vinay Shahani, Lexus VP of marketing, said in a statement.