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How Lexus Doubled Leads With an Interactive Hologram

How Lexus Doubled Leads With an Interactive Hologram

Zach Brooke

Team One, the advertising agency behind Lexus, had a problem. The marketers needed to get the 2017 car line in front of the masses, but they were running into some concrete obstacles. Stadium-sized ones.

They quickly decided that sporting venues were the ideal locations to reach their target audience, as these buildings have both the density and the right demographic composition. Lexus already paid a premium to operate inside these structures, sponsoring exhibit spaces such as the Lexus Courtside Club at Staples Center and the Lexus Dugout Club at Dodger Stadium. There was only one problem: Building restrictions and transport logistics prohibited the team from installing a fleet of cars inside each venue to present to prospective buyers.


Team One got creative. It also got Ashley Crowder, CEO and co-founder of VNTANA, an augmented reality hologram company that designs scalable and interactive holograms.

 “What’s great about the technology is the content can be anything,” Crowder says. “You can really let your imagination run wild. It’s when you create those fun, engaging experiences that your consumers are going to want to share on social media, and that’s what gets you user-generated content that’s so valuable.” VNTANA’s tech meshed perfectly with Lexus’ desire to create an innovative, engaging fan experience while exposing fans to the latest car models.

Once Crowder was on board, Lexus fleshed out a campaign that included specific benchmarks needed to ensure success of the 2017 line.

“[Lexus] spends all this money to sponsor these stadiums, and they get a sign, [but] they don’t really know [about results],” Crowder says. “It’s been very hard for them to quantify how much that is helping their brand.” The campaign with VTANA aimed to address that. “Lexus’ goal was to drive dealership traffic,” says Audrey Lundy, a Lexus spokesperson. “An important part of the partnership was using a lead generation tool, which allows Lexus to capture consumers’ data, with permission, and ask if they would like to be contacted by a dealer.”

The campaign began at the start of the 2016-17 NBA season in October 2016. Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Clippers, served as the initial facility to unveil the holograms.

 Booths were set up that allowed attendees to project a hologram version of themselves onto a dark screen next to the 2017 Lexus LC, the brand’s luxury sports car.

Users were able to customize the vehicle, adding specialized door, roof and wheel options, as well as their favorite color. While they were busy customizing their hologram, VNTANA’s technology was busy building profiles of each visitor.

“We have facial recognition, so we can tell their age, gender and sentiment,” Crowder says. “We know what car they designed. We know if they shared it on social media.”

The experience was enhanced by gamified elements fostering a sense of competition among sports fans.

“We created a hologram basketball game,” Crowder says. “You got to see your hologram live and put your hand up on a hologram basketball. [It] spun around your fingers, and you had to try and balance it. It would count the number of seconds.” The competition provided a fun way to entice fans to interact with the hologram and offered the entertainment in exchange for valuable data.

Initial results looked promising enough to roll out the campaign at other venues. Once all the planned locations were exhausted, Lexus added stadiums to the hologram tour.

Presently, Lexus holograms have been implemented in Madison Square Garden, United Center, Staples Center, Capital One Arena, Petco Park, Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium.


Success was apparent upon kickoff. At a single activation, the hologram experience collected 1,225 leads and more than 1,650 user-created video views. Some participants chose to upload their hologram selves to social media, where they were shared more than 160 times with an average watch time of 1 minute 54 seconds. This may not seem like a lot, considering the work that was put into execution, but it was a considerable amount of interest for a car that can cost six figures. The performance was better than Lexus was used to seeing at these types of events. At Dodger Stadium, for instance, Lexus doubled the leads it generated from the previous two years of activations. And, as Crowder points out, Lexus and its CRM company determined the leads to be qualified.

Lexus is looking to continue using the technology for the upcoming 2017-2018 Clippers season inside the Lexus Courtside Club at Staples Center. There may be other venues on the horizon for the hologram set up as well, but neither VNTANA nor Lexus are saying where. Lexus is confident they can successfully deploy the hologram at any location.

“New technology has always performed well for us,” Lundy says. “Whether it’s virtual reality … or a hologram, we see more user engagement.”

Zach Brooke is a former AMA staff writer turned freelance journalist. His work has been featured in Chicago magazine, Milwaukee Magazine, A.V. Club and VICE, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Zach_Brooke.