Lexus’s hoverboard is sweeping the Internet. It’s like something straight from a far-fetched sci-fi movie. It’s so new and outlandish, in fact, that the word “hoverboard” invariably autocorrects to “overboard.” Every time. It’s actually quite annoying. But you know what? Lexus’s hoverboard really isn’t anything new. Here’s why.
A DISAPPOINTING (BUT REALLY COOL) LETDOWN
While yes, the recent Lexus promos of pro skateboarder Ross McGouran riding a hoverboard have made the mouths of skaters, science fiction gurus and Back to the Future buffs water with anticipation, it seems that this “new world” isn’t really that new.
The videos are really cool. They are. But after reading up on the board a little bit, you learn that not only is this not the first hoverboard to surface, but that the technology that makes it work is severely limited. The board requires a metal track beneath it at all times for its magnetic suspension to work. “But I saw that guy in a skatepark–on water, even!” you say. And yes, you did. But it wasn’t a regular skate park. You saw him in an artificial skating arena loaded with hundreds of magnets that took over a year and a half to construct.
What is further disappointing (sorry if this is breaking the news to you) is that Lexus even admits that further production of the hoverboard for sale to the masses would be unthinkable. When asked for an approximate cost, Yolanda Waldock of Lexus said, “You couldn’t actually put a finger on it. It’s impossible to put a finger on it.”
So why build only the coolest toy of the century, only to leave millions of people grasping at thin air? Publicity.
AN EXTRAVAGANT MARKETING MOVE
It’s genius, really. What could be better for a luxury automobile maker in an ultra-competitive industry than to create something so outlandishly futuristic that it doesn’t even matter that it won’t ever be released for sale? What you have is millions upon millions of people, most of whom undoubtedly do not (and likely will not in the near future) have the money to purchase a Lexus. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter are those who do have the money to buy a Lexus that are now in the spotlight as owners of an elite brand of automobiles. Long story short: somewhere, a Lexus marketer should be receiving a large bonus soon.
However, despite the genius of this seemingly absurd project, what we see here is really nothing new. It serves the same purpose as Red Bull hosting the X-Games, Brad Pitt endorsing a high-end perfume company and bikini-clad women keeping watch over the grocery checkout aisle. The hoverboard’s sole purpose (it’s okay to shed a tear) is to build up Lexus’s brand and earn it some new eyes. That’s what marketing is about–and boy, did Lexus do it with style.
Good job, Lexus. I will still not be buying one of your cars.
Connect with me on LinkedIn.