Lexus just raised the bar in the branded content space. This week the luxury car company debuted a new Internet video series called Darkcasting hosted by comedian Whitney Cummings. Each episode of Darkcasting features local celebrities driving around their neighborhoods at night in the new Lexus hybrid CT 200h.
One of the aspects of Darkcasting that makes it so interesting is the types of guests that were selected for the series. Instead of just booking the same people that you might see on a daytime talk show, the producers selected makers, activists, chefs, entrepreneurs, social media influencers and innovative executives.
- DJ Qbert: Filipino American turntablist and composer. He was named America’s Best DJ in 2010 and has his own online university for DJs called Qbert Skratch University.
- Goapele Mohlabane: Oakland-born American soul and R&B singer-songwriter known for her influence and collaborations with Snoop Dogg, E-40, Eric Benét, Soulive, Drake, YG, and Jeff Bhasker to name a few. In addition to her music, Goapele also devotes her time to activism, acting, and fashion.
- Harley Viera-Newton: British model and DJ, known for her spreads in magazines like Vogue and Elle, and her regular headlining gigs at famous clubs such as Westway, The Jane, Avenue, and Le Bain at the Standard Hotel NYC.
- Carlo Mirarchi: Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Roberta’s Pizza, Blanca, and Rippers. He has been featured prominently in publications like VOGUE, GQ, Bon Appétit, and The Guardian (to name a few) for his imaginative and often boundary-pushing menus.
- Baratunde Thurston: Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show, advised the Obama White House, and cleaned bathrooms to pay for his Harvard education.
- Brian Solis: Principal analyst at Altimeter Group. He is also an award-winning author, prominent blogger/writer, and keynote speaker.
- Matt Accarrino: Popular chef at San Francisco’s SPQR known for his innovative approach to food, organic cuisine, and foraging. An alumnus of Metrazure, Oceana, and Per Se, he is also a very accomplished and decorated chef. In addition to the numerous Michelin stars that he’s earned at SPQR (Update: 7 as of 2019), he’s taken top honors Cochon555 was named StarChefs Rising Star of 2010, and Food & Wine’s “Best New Chef” of 2014. He also wrote a New York Times best-selling cookbook in 2012 called SPQR: Modern Italian Food and Wine.
Each interview is a fascinating conversation with these influencers and what motivates them… that just happens to take place during a Lexus test drive.
“With Darkcasting, we’re providing a mobile studio from which an entertaining talk show takes place against a moving cityscape. It helps us see the car through the lens of creative people from a variety of professional fields,” said David Nordstrom, Lexus Vice President of Marketing.
Lexus’ Branded Content Efforts
Branded content isn’t anything new to Lexus. Previously, the luxury car company launched Lisa Kudrow’s Web Therapy under the L Studio group. But unlike Web Therapy that focused on the “Lexus lifestyle”, Darkcasting better ingrates Lexus vehicles, like the CT 200h, into the content. It’s a much more focused effort on their part.