Lexus Canada is one of the first advertisers to get a handle on a new advertising program offered by Rogers Media’s publishing division.
As part of Rogers’ new content marketing initiative, which includes cover placement and a presence in the table of contents, the automaker is partnering with four Rogers titles – Maclean’s, Canadian Business, Sportsnet and L’actualité – on a series of sponsored articles designed to amplify brand traits like craftsmanship, luxury and service.
The program’s roots lie in a meeting between Lexus and the editors of the four Rogers titles, where the company discussed its brand priorities and brand positioning.
“Words like luxury and craftsmanship and service kept coming up,” said Rogers’ director of content solutions Christopher Loudon, who also attended the meetings. “The editors were then charged with coming up with stories that fit with their editorial mandate, but also fit the brand priorities.”
The program’s first execution, with Maclean’s, focuses on craftsmanship. It features a story about Tom McLean, a Toronto-area firefighter who crafts world-class handles and protective sheaths for kitchen knives that have found devout fans, including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
The story, which was written with no input or oversight from Lexus (“It’s pure 100% Maclean’s editorial,” says Loudon), is featured in Maclean’s Canada Day double issue, with a cover sell that reads “Blades of glory with Lexus.”
In a nod to the story’s content, a full-page ad on the issue’s inside front cover features the company’s new RC F sport coupe, accompanied by the message “A sharp eye for detail,” while a listing in the magazine’s table of contents reads “Canada’s best knife handler. With Lexus.”
A tag at the bottom of the opening spread identifies the story as being “Presented in partnership with Lexus,” with a similar notification on the online version of the story. Maclean’s is also promoting the story through its various social media feeds.
A second iteration of the program with Sportsnet magazine is focused on Lexus’s pride in building its cars in Canada, with a feature story on building the perfect team.
Cyril Dimitris, director of Lexus Canada in Toronto, said that the program was proposed by its agency DentsuBos and is designed to amplify the luxury brand’s commitment to design and performance.
“We just liked the idea of having some tie-in with articles that related to our brand pillars,” said Dimitris. “The lifestyle tie-in with what Lexus stands for, which in this case is craftsmanship and design, was a great story for us to embrace.”
Lexus is also promoting the RC F with TV, digital and out-of-home advertising. Future executions with Rogers will be aligned with the most appropriate Lexus brand, he said.
Lexus is among the first wave of advertisers to participate in the new Rogers program. “In each media we embrace, we try to find a way to cut through clutter and find a competitive edge,” said Dimitris. “We’re always experimental in our approach, so the ideal of piloting something like this was very appealing to us.”
Loudon said the new content marketing program has been successful in its early going.
“It’s been remarkable because there are so many different departments within Rogers working together: the digital team, the custom content team, the editorial and sales teams,” he said. “It’s been incredibly fluid. Everyone appreciates that this is something new and different, and everyone’s come to the table with their best game and said ‘Let’s make this as exceptional as we possibly can.’”
He said that “several” other clients have already signed on to the program, with future iterations expected to encompass clients in the retail, beauty and packaged goods sectors.
“My argument’s always been that, a year from now, we’re going to ask ‘What’s the next new thing?’ because that’s always the way it is,” said Loudon. “Will this become a standard part of our arsenal? Absolutely. There’s a lot of client interest, we’re executing it well and I think clients appreciate the elevated value of what these programs offer.”
He predicted that the next step would be a purely digital play, addressing numerous requests from agencies and clients. “That’s probably what we have to look at next,” he said.
Disclosure: Rogers owns Marketing and MarketingMag.ca