Automobiles and women in skimpy clothing. They've been together probably since cavemen finished chiseling the first stone wheel. These days, it's not really acceptable for mainstream auto brands to just throw girls in bikinis into their advertising—but there are exceptions. You can go over the top and "ironic" (as Kia did with Adriana Lima in the Super Bowl). Or you can partner with that last bastion of semi-reputable, sanitized smut—the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
Ford did a clever integration with this year's issue, buying print ads that featured a nonexistent model—Google searches for whom led straight to a Mustang website. Lexus and ad agency Team One, meanwhile, have gone quite a bit bigger—building an actual racetrack in the shape of SI swimsuit model Tori Praver's body.
No one was a bigger fan of this plan than Praver herself. "I thought it was so awesome when I found out that Lexus wanted to make a track around my body. I thought it was a really cool idea," the 25-year-old Californian exclaims in the mini-documentary below. Others might use words besides awesome. Women, in particular, could be uncomfortable with the metaphor here, which Lexus, far from side-stepping it, celebrates in this tweet to its 300,000 followers: "Can you handle the curves of Sports Illustrated model Tori Praver?"
Whether or not Praver's body is like a piece of road to be driven repeatedly for fun is almost beside the point. The funny thing here is that Praver doesn't even really have any curves. Her elbow, knee and hair provide the most circuitous terrain on the track. Like many models of her generation, if you really drew a proper line around Praver and built a track from it, you'd end up cruising down one long straightaway after another.
As a stunt, it's not a bad idea. It just doesn't really get out of second gear. And the accompanying interactive element—a camera app called Supermodeled, which allows you to place Praver into your own photos—feels a bit marginal, too. But all this is probably overthinking things. Men have been putting half-naked women in car ads for generations. If they can get away with it by blaming Sports Illustrated, they'll surely continue to do so.
Just don't expect too many women to hop in the driver's seat.
Agency: Team One, El Segundo, Calif.
Chief Creative Director: Chris Graves
Executive Creative Director, Digital: Alastair Green
Group Creative Directors: Craig Crawford, Jason Stinsmuehlen
Creative Directors: David DeRoma, Eric Arnold
Copywriter: Scott Ivener
Art Director: Andrew McGuire
Agency Executive Producer: Sam Walsh
Agency Business Manager: David Peake
Director: Vic Huber (currently at Recommended Media), Jerad Sloan
Production Company: Bandito Brothers, Team One
Executive Producer: Jeff Rohrer
Producer: Beth Pearson
App Design and Development: Superfad, Culver City, CA; Tool of NA, Los Angeles, CA