Acura takes mobile-first road to showcase the 2018 TLX

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The Japanese automaker touts "What a Ride" with campaign built for social sharing.

When Acura turned 30 last year, the brand gave itself a birthday present: a new set of marketing guidelines that would set the tone for all future creative. Everything would center on "Precision Crafted Performance," a brand platform focused on "providing exhilarating experiences with youthful enthusiasm and meaningful innovation."

Today, the automaker introduces the new TLX sedan with a TV and digital campaign that flaunts the thrill of the drive with "What a Ride." The campaign, created by MullenLowe in Los Angeles, includes four 30-second spots that feature hip-hop, bold graphics and colorful imagery that stress the car’s style and speed.  

"When you think about the conventions of luxury, it’s this old, gravelly voice and pretentious tone, and it’s so stuffy," said Ed Beadle, integrated marketing senior manager at Acura. "It’s so fun to go opposite because there’s no reason why it has to be like that."

The footage for the campaign was shot to easily translate from TV to mobile. The executions follow a triptych structure, depicting the TLX careening down a race track with interspersed shots of car features and nostalgic clips from black-and-white cartoons as well as other pop culture snippets like an exploding Rubik’s Cube. On platforms that adhere to a vertical alignment (like Snapchat), Acura will select one of the three panels to share its message.

The creative approach was taken to appeal to a younger consumer who values performance first, said Jon Ikeda, VP and general manager at Acura. "We’re making sure that everyone understands that we’re a performance brand first," he said, adding that the films also showcase the car’s sportier features like a red leather interior.

The structure allows the brand to "combine amazing footage of the TLX and weave in a wild experience that appeals to the eyes as much as the ears," added Margaret Keene, executive creative director at MullenLowe. "There are interesting twists and turns baked in keeping the spots interesting and fun every time you see it."

Acura will unveil the 2018 TLX and the accompanying campaign tonight at an event in New York City just ahead of the New York Auto Show later this week. The car, however, won’t be available to consumers until June, when the campaign makes its debut to the public.

The spots—set to the music of recording artist Kid Ink's "The Movement"—will launch online (Snapchat, Facebook and pre-roll) and across cable TV channels, including a Spanish version for Univision and other Spanish-speaking channels. RPA in Los Angeles handled media buying.