Showcase: Lexus Hoverboard 'Project Slide' by CHI&Partners

Lexus has been working with CHI&Partners for three years on its Amazing in Motion advertising campaign and the latest PR stunt is a textbook example of the power of viral content.

For the fourth campaign, dubbed Project Slide, Lexus designed a working hoverboard as it wanted to showcase its engineering capabilities to the world, increase the 'cool factor' of the brand and show there is "no such thing as impossible".

CHI&Partners came up with the idea, which took a year to put together and required hundreds of people to bring to life. When asked by PRWeek whether this was a stunt to capitalise on the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future, which popularised the hoverboard concept, Monty Verdi, creative director at CHI&Partners, said this was just a coincidence.

However, Verdi told PRWeek that interest in the Lexus hoverboard was likely to generate a second spike of coverage later in the year when the anniversary arrived.

The #LexusHover project launched with a 37-second YouTube clip on 24 June and went viral overnight with zero marketing spend. Titled 'Lexus has created a real, rideable hoverboard', the video created huge buzz around the web, particularly as it remained ambiguous as to whether this was just a PR stunt or whether this would be a product.

The clip generated 3,500 headlines globally in under two weeks, 590 million online impressions in the first month based on the first teaser and 11 million video views. At the time of writing the #LexusHover hashtgas has been used 18,830 times.

Verdi told journalists that the agency had a seven-week social strategy in place, and when the teaser trailer went viral it took a responsive approach. 

It was quickly identified that everyone wanted to know one thing: was the hoverboard real?

To address this issue, CHI&Partners revealed that pro-skateboard Ross McGouran would be riding the board in a hoverpark and decided to release the video two weeks earlier than planned on 5 August.

After 12 hours, the latest video had generated 769,000 views on YouTube, with the reaction being mixed. Comments range from praising Lexus for creating the hoverboard, to disappointment because it uses magnets and is not actually a commercial product. Some even think the video is fake.

CHI&Partners is already developing the fifth instalment of the Amazing in Motion series and it remains to be seen whether it can match this unprecedented level of engagement.

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