Lexus has worked to build brand awareness among the next generation of luxury car buyers with campaigns to reach them where they spend time – namely, with gaming-related content and creators. The vehicle brand this year exceeded its engagement goals with a livestreamed game show on Twitch, the video platform owned by Amazon.
“Next Level with Lexus” pitted four creators against each other for a chance to win $20,000 to bring their livestreams to the “next level” and have their work promoted on Twitch’s homepage. The two-hour show, which featured the 2022 Lexus NX F Sport SUV, racked up more than 500,000 views and 1.45 million total minutes watched, per a company press release.
“With ‘Next Level,’ we learned that we can work with partners to create our own pop-culture moment,” Lisa McQueen, media manager at Lexus, said in emailed comments to Marketing Dive. “We're thrilled that ‘Next Level’ exceeded all benchmarks for sponsored streams by over 94%.”
The better-than-expected results are a sign of how brands can develop campaigns for streaming platforms like Twitch that combine the authenticity of user-generated content with consumer interaction. “Next Level” asked Twitch viewers to vote for the winner of the grand prize and showed the results almost immediately.
Twitch two years ago surged in popularity at the onset of the pandemic, when people were stuck at home during lockdowns. It provided live entertainment at a time when sports leagues worldwide had canceled or delayed their seasons because of health concerns, and as more people played video games for entertainment.
“Twitch is a valuable channel for Lexus due to its large, enthusiastic community and the live, interactive nature of the platform,” McQueen said. “Twitch's audience is dynamic and creative — it's well aligned with our NX customer.”
Original branding programming
Amid the shortage of semiconductor chips that has impaired factory output for car makers, Lexus and other luxury brands have still managed to grow. Lexus last year boosted sales by 11% to about 305,000 vehicles, behind the leader BMW’s 21% jump to almost 337,000 vehicles, according to Cox Automotive.
Lexus’ game show on Twitch also shows how brands can participate in original programming where they have creative control. Twitch continues to diversify its content outside of gaming livestreams, which typically have a picture-in-picture format that shows the videogame and the gamer’s reactions. One of the most popular genres of livestreams is “just chatting,” which are like video diaries where creators can show conversations and ask Twitch users to respond in real time.
“’Next Level’ was a key pillar of our NX launch campaign, ‘Hustle for What Matters,’ which was designed to reach shoppers with great ambition carving their own paths,” McQueen said. “Our NX campaign leaned heavily into the digital and streaming space to connect with this busy audience in the channels they were most likely to engage.”
Engaging ‘active contributors’
Lexus determined that NX buyers are “active contributors” to the Twitch community, McQueen said.
“With this in mind, it was important to us to build ‘Next Level’ from the ground up in partnership with Twitch to ensure the end result showcased the all-new 2022 NX F Sport in a way that respected the creators and supporters of the platform,” she said.
The participants in the “Next Level” contest weren’t top gaming streamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, a gamer who amassed millions of followers with his skill playing Fortnite. Instead, the contestants included streamers like Dominike Stanton, a comic book artist who shows his drawing technique at his “Domostanton” channel on Twitch. The Twitch community picked musician Annelle Staal, who streams as “Annelle,” the winner of the “Next Level” grand prize.
After the “Next Level” livestream on Twitch, the content was packaged into a three-episode series on the Lexus NX Amazon Fire TV anchor page — the first time Amazon and Twitch have collaborated to share content across their platforms in this way, McQueen explained.
Twitch is among the digital platforms that seek to support the efforts of creators by helping them to monetize their efforts. Google’s YouTube pioneered revenue-sharing with creators at a time when other content-sharing apps took a hands-off approach to helping influencers monetize their posts. However, Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook and Twitter have added services for people whose content helps to generate repeat visits to their apps.
“Next Level” marks an extension of Lexus’s efforts to engage the Twitch community. The vehicle brand last year unveiled its first car designed by and for the Twitch community after enlisting streamer Fuslie and more than 500,000 unique viewers to design one of its car models. The campaign polled viewers on in-car features as part of a broader effort to reach people who were “all in” on pursuing their passions.
“We took the learnings from our first collaboration to try something even more ambitious with ‘Next Level,’” McQueen said. “As the Twitch audience expands beyond gaming, understanding your target audience and creating experiences that tap into the interactive nature of the platform will drive successful outcomes.”