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Lexus ES: Is this the first U.S. car commercial filmed on a street with a protected bike lane?

Since I've been doing lots of research, analysis and interviews for a future Streetfilm looking at car commercials, this recent Lexus ES ad in heavy rotation during football Sundays really caught my eye.  If you are a cyclist or urban planner take a 30 second gander.  It just might be a first (at least in the United States): a major car company deciding to showcase their car on a complete street!

Yes, "Infinite Glances" is your typically slick, highly-manipulated production from the car world, but it's kind of exciting to see the protected bike lane representin' on the right hand side of the screen. From the look of the city, I knew it was likely shot in Vancouver. And after freeze framing the video and looking at the street names it's apparent this was shot on Vancouver's Dunsmuir Street, which does indeed have a wonderful protected bike facility. (Streetfilms Note: we have a video debuting shortly on bicycling in Vancouver, from the Velo City 2012 conference in June.)

However, delve a little deeper into the photoshopping and F/X and you'll find that the advertising world just can't leave well enough alone.  Although they have nicely populated the streets with pedestrians and cyclists, all four cyclists depicted on Dunsmuir are riding outside the bike infrastructure!  Here's two of them riding in the road instead of behind the green planted buffer to our right:

But even more alarming?  TWICE in the video they have cars driving the wrong way up the separated bike lane!!!  See those below:

My first excited impression (and maybe too hopeful) was that perhaps this advert was a nod by Lexus that streets are for more than automobiles. But after looking at the manipulation closer it's probably just that it's really just a nice-looking, busy-with-people-city-street to use as a canvas to show off the Lexus. At the end the voiceover intones, "This is the pursuit of perfection." But it's obvious there are some glaring errors in the Lexus photosim technology.

Still with all that said, I think most will agree it's far better than most of the horrible car commercials populating the airwaves. Your thoughts?





  • http://profiles.google.com/toddedelman1 Todd Edelman

    Clarence, your analysis is spot-on starting near the end with "... after looking.." so why do you think this is "better than most"?

    The bikes are virtually invisible and this is not in any an image of a Complete Street. No one who is not familiar with this street will see anything except (tryin' to be sexy) wet cars on wet streets, with no congestion (and a white male driver).

    It's just more elite mobility promotion (and some more favors for scummy Mayor Robertson of Vancouver who after seeing the negative reaction in the media to criticism of Vancouver's stupid all-ages helmet law during Velo-city decided to implement a crackdown on helmetless people on bikes right after the event.)

    In this example from about 1970 a cyclist overtakes the car that is the focus of the ad: http://youtu.be/Vqf7lFF-3_g

  • Clarence

    It's probably just better than most to me since I am always examining car commercials with a very critical eye and at least this one doesn't have cars speeding at 100 mph in a desert or idiotic people honking and behaving recklessly. 

    Even a lot of advocates I spoke to had no idea that there was a separated bike lane in the commercial.  So there is a certain invisibility to it.

    Still I do have a fondness among all of the horrible car commercial stuff out there whenever they show a rather civil car ad in a dense city with pedestrians and cyclists.  Which is why it is a little better than most to me.

  • http://twitter.com/walkeaglerock Walk Eagle Rock

    The ad completely dismisses and tries to hide the fact that there's significant bicycle infrastructure. The ad tries to suggest that a car is a sexy and cool thing to have when traveling through a thriving (as illustrated through the cyclists and pedestrians crossing) downtown area. Had the cyclists been in the separated bike lane, then this ad would get my nod of approval. I'd give Lexus credit for even trying to make an ad on a downtown street with bicycle infrastructure

  • http://twitter.com/glhjr MyWHaT/G. Howe

    Critiques aside, at least it wasn't a car commercial pretending that the car will deliver the driver to a world unpopulated by others. This is one vibrant place! 

  • http://profiles.google.com/toddedelman1 Todd Edelman

    Remember that it does not matter what we think about this unless it persuades us to pick the competing Audi or whatever because it is shown being driven full of a multi-cultural family at 20mph on Complete Streets (also complete with poor people) and always stopping for cyclists, and talking to people outside the car.

  • Davistrain

    In addition to the other comments, I have to laugh at the "Entirely New" claim.  It has four rubber-tired wheels and an internal combustion engine, a configuration that's been around for over 100 years.  But I agree that showing the sponsor's product on a city street is more realistic than some winding mounain road (that's been cordoned off by a highway crew after payment of a hefty fee).  Even more realistic would be to show it on a crowded freeway, creeping along at three furlongs per fortnight, with most of the capability of the newly redesigned engine going to waste (but at least the driver has a comfortable air-conditioned space with "luxurious appointments" and a splendid stereo system to keep him or her amused.)

  • Anonymous

    If it is an advertisement for the U.S. market, why couldn't Lexus have shot it in the USA?  Why does Lexus hate America?

  • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

    Vancouver is a stand in for many American cities because it's cheaper to film there.

  • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

    The one that bugs me right now is the Volvo "Red Riding Hood" ad, in which the car driver revs his engine to intimidate the wolf that's just trying to cross the road without becoming roadkill.

  • MG

    While I agree the mandatory helmet law is stupid, it should be pointed out that it's an area of provincial, not municipal, jurisdiction. And both the current and likely incoming provincial parties have firmly expressed their opposition to its repeal. The mayor has little to do with it.

    As well, when I lived in Vancouver, I often encountered police crackdowns on errant cyclists along major cycling routes. This was way before Robertson's tenure, mind you, and I seriously doubt that much has changed since then or that police orders directly come from him.  

  • Nancy

    Interesting. Reminds me of this KIA ad from 2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddJSkJQrggs. I think it just aired in Canada. 

  • Rob Wynen

    The message I got out of this is that Lexus technology can get you through all those miserable obstacles in the city, all of them gawking at your high tech car.  I have noticed allot of car companies use bikes in their ads, either as they park them with the bike in the back of their garage, passing bikes on the street, car on the roof, this along with windmills in the background.  A clever technique to try to attach a green image to their non green product.  Rob

  • Ian Turner

    @5f951f05715740e90205567ddcc942a8:disqus : Actually Vancouver has additional, more restrictive, helmet laws that go beyond the provincial ones.

  • http://twitter.com/gecko39 fj

    The most important impacts driverless technologies will be those implemented in net zero vehicles.

  • Gordon Duncan

    Did anyone else watch this ad and wonder...
      "All Crown Vic taxis? In Vancouver?"OK, I'm sure most of the people watching the ad don't recognize Vancouver, don't care about Vancouver, and don't know or care that the Prius taxi has taken over Vancouver.But to me, it's ironic (understandable, but ironic) that Toyota kept the Prius taxis out of its Lexus ad.( Funny thing is, it was a Vancouver Prius cab ride that sold ME on buying a Prius: nothing like a maniac cabdriver relentlessly hammering the gas and brake on a Prius taxi with 240K km on the odometer that had fewer rattles and jolts than the pampered car I had back home! )

  • Leo

    Glad this guy was only imagining that he was driving--he runs over 2 pedestrians and t-bones a car at Dunsmuir and Howe, then he runs over a cyclist on Dunsmuir near Hornby. Aside from that, I like how it loops seamlessly back to the starting point at Dunsmuir and Granville.

  • fuzzball7

    As long as you don't hit the insurance companies and the tax payers for your medical bills nor the driver of the car that ht you.I agree