- Lexus has teamed up with Marvel for two new car models — the 2018 LC Inspiration Series production car and a concept coupe dubbed the Black Panther Inspired LC — in advance of the “Black Panther” film set for release Feb. 16, 2018, in the U.S. and in time for the SEMA 2017 auto specialty products trade event, per a press release from the automaker.
- The promotion around the new models includes a graphic novel from Marvel Custom Solutions which features the LC 500 as a partner of the Black Panther. Four chapters are currently available on a landing page on Marvel.com with the full novel to be released in December.
- The limited-edition 2018 LC — of which only 100 will be sold in the U.S. — is the first in a planned succession of Inspiration Series cars for each of Lexus' flagship models.
While the automotive industry has a rich history of placing vehicles in movies — from James Bond’s Aston Martin to the more recent Mercedes-Benz appearance in the upcoming “Justice League” release — the partnership between Lexus and Marvel is interesting because the automaker is taking film sponsorship to new levels.
While it's not unusual for a carmaker to produce a vehicle to be featured in a film and even sell some version of the car to consumers, Lexus has taken extra steps to produce a real-world vehicle that reflects the look and feel of the Black Panther film. The limited-edition LC features a unique paint technique called Structural Blue that reflects blue light in a way that produces a motion effect even when the vehicle is parked, the press release.
"We're bringing our two worlds together by letting our imaginations run wild like there are no limits to what's possible," said Mindy Hamilton, Marvel's SVP of global partnerships and marketing, in the press release. "That's what Black Panther and the nation of Wakanda represent in the film, and it's been incredible to work with Lexus as we attempt to re-create that ideology here in our own corner of the universe."
The graphic novel adds another level to the brand integration as it comes from Marvel’s custom content shop and was envisioned by head writer Fabian Nicieza with a storyline that teams the LC 500 with Black Panther to protect the hero’s home planet. Including a graphic novel in the campaign illustrates how marketers are looking for ways to reach audiences that might be hard to reach through more traditional marketing channels.
The Mercedes partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures for “Justice League” had a digital comic series created by DC’s Custom Creative Studio that is being released exclusively on Mercedes-Benz’s Instagram channels. That effort was clearly aimed toward younger demographics.