From its inception, Lexus has been advertised to luxury consumers using specific marketing strategies, with a consistent motif used for the marque's advertisements. Beginning in 1989, television ads were narrated by actor James Sloyan (the voice of "Mr. Lexus" until 2009), and accompanied by vehicles that performed unusual stunts onscreen. The first decade of Lexus commercials (1989–99) consisted primarily of disjunctive verbal descriptions, such as "relentless," "pursuit," and "perfection," while vehicles were used to claim superiority in precision, idling, and interior quiet and comfort on camera. Examples included the champagne glass "Balance" (1989) and rolling "Ball Bearing" (1992). In the 2000s, commercials included descriptions of novel features, or a narration of the events onscreen, and were often targeted at the marque's German competitors. An annual "December to Remember" campaign featured scenes of family members surprising loved ones with the gift of a new Lexus. The marque returned to the champagne glass theme in a 2006 LS 460 spot showing the sedan maneuvering between two stacks of glasses using its self-parking system, and in a 2010 LFA spot showing its engine sound shattering a glass via resonance frequency.
Industry observers have attributed Lexus' early marketing successes to higher levels of perceived quality and lower prices than competitors, which have enabled the marque to attract customers upgrading from mass-market cars. A reputation for dependability, bolstered by reliability surveys, also became a primary factor in attracting new customers from rival premium makes. Lexus has since grown to command higher price premiums than rival Japanese makes, with new models further increasing in price and reaching the over-US$100,000 ultra-luxury category long dominated by rival European marques.
Automotive analysts have also noted Lexus' relative newcomer status as a marketing challenge for the brand, although some have debated the requirement of a long history. European rivals have marketed their decades of heritage and pedigree, whereas Lexus' reputation rests primarily upon its perceived quality and shared history with parent company Toyota. Several analysts have stated that Lexus will have to develop its own heritage over time by highlighting technological innovations and producing substantial products.
Lexus' marketing efforts have extended to sporting and charity event sponsorships, including the U.S. Open tennis Grand Slam event from 2005 to 2009, and the United States Golf Association's U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open, U.S. Senior Open, and U.S. Amateur tournaments since 2007. Lexus has organized an annual Champions for Charity golf series in the U.S. since 1989. Endorsement contracts have also been signed with professional athletes Andy Roddick, Annika Sörenstam, and Peter Jacobsen.
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