Lexus ad ‘insults classical musicians’

Lexus ad ‘insults classical musicians’


norman lebrecht

November 11, 2014

A new ad from the Japanese car-maker is a slap in the face for classical music.

lexus ad

The first thing that strikes your ear is that the orchestral sound has been doctored and slightly speeded up to make it sound glassy and repulsive. Then you get to see that the musicians are old and creepy. This car is for the young, screams the ad, as classical music is not.

Melbourne cellist Paul Ghica has posted a protest here.

Lexus would not dare to show this in Japan. Please share it with your Japanese friends.

UPDATE here.


  • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

    I love the revamped version by one of the commentators below his letter. Brilliant!!

  • Robert Holmén says:

    You can be a hip individualist if you buy this mass-produced product.

  • Xalira says:

    Sad if viewed from a classical musician’s point of view, but I think the aim was more to mock other car ads, which have in the past featured classical music to give a “prestige” aura etc etc

  • Mike Schachter says:

    By spivs for morons.

  • Leoz says:

    Insult?…it’s clearly satirical and shouldn’t be seen as an insult to classical musicians. The poor tonal quality seems like a conscious choice intended to heighten the ad’s humor. It’s a solid ad. But you’re right that they wouldn’t show it in Japan.

  • Mark says:

    The earnest Mr Ghica has had a humour bypass here. It’s an amusing ad. Nothing more.

  • James says:

    The ad is somewhat funny, nothing to be offended about. Cheer up!

  • R. James Tobin says:

    It is definitely offensive, but only one of the musicians is old and none of them are creepy.

  • Miles Golding says:

    Haha, nice improvement. What a pleasure when the real thing starts. But “Never settle for crappy playing”​? Bit unfair on the musos – it’s the arrangement and the audio production that makes me want to vomit all over the upholstery of a Lexus.

  • Anne says:

    Like it or not, stereotypes are confirmed by casual negative references to classical music in films, and in adverts like these. For many young people this is all they have to go on. They really do believe that classical is old, squeaky and not for people they regard as normal.

    If it really is harmless, imagine the same advert but with three black people singing rap. How long do you think it would last?

    • Brian says:

      Great comment! Or even three white rappers, to remove the race aspect.
      But this kind of thing goes way back. Remember those old Andy Hardy movies where the girl singing opera is uptight until she sees the light and finds happiness singing swing.
      Or Hitchcock’s 1960 Psycho (a great film) where Vera Miles is exploring Bates’s the creepy old house and sees a record player . What’s on it? Beethoven’s Eroica. Message: a characteristic of deranged serial killers is they like classical music. Classics are creepy.

      • Anne says:

        Looking on the bright side, I suppose it could be regarded as a compliment. In films, the bad guys are usually the more interesting ones.

  • Bob M says:

    I’d kick them out too. They sounded horrible.

  • Compassion Wolf says:

    classical musicians are mostly in the business of reproducing someone else’s masterworks, 99% of which was spawned hundreds of years ago. So it’s a fair stereotype in an age espousing individualism. But the argument gets more complicated when you delve into deeper realities: that Beethoven and his ilk were great spirits and more highly individualistic than the current idea that being individual equates with dumb hedonism implied in this car advert. The classical masters were all overturning the status quo in a big way…and yet more paradoxical when you consider that being a classical musician now means being a reproductionist, albeit a highly dedicated, dedicated and skilled one. Pop music will always hold the upper hand of “cool” here, because it does represent individualism far more graphically – literally a culture of individuals creating their own “way” in life, not just in their music. So apart from the irony that pop has become self imitative and so unbecome itself as the bastion of individualism it once was, and the existence of a few freak classical musicians who are breaking the status quo, actually making their own original music as their oeuvre and social identity in their daily concerts, the typecasting in this advert is likely understandable in most of the world’s eyes.

  • Albert Filosa says:

    Mozart’s music will still be the paragon of perfection long after Lexus has disappeared
    from the planet. This ad IS deeply offensive to those who care about the arts and
    culture. It is in fact shockingly offensive. Even just as an ad, it’s terrible in purely practical
    terms, because some of those who have appreciation for the arts also have the
    financial wherewithal to purchase a Lexus. Thus it risks alienating some of the very people who might be interesting in purchasing the product it intends to promote. But the Lexus people won’t understand — after all, it’s about QUALITY.

  • Jay says:

    This isn’t the first time Lexus has made a joke of classical music. I remember a commercial from about 2002 where a girl is sitting in an outdoor cafe waiting to meet a blind date. She’s talking to a girlfriend on her cell phone about how she wants to meet a guy who likes flowers and listens to classical music, all this while classical music is playing in the background. Meanwhile, her date is racing in his Lexus to meet her, engine revving and loud rock music blasting…you get the picture. That commercial probably offended me more than this one did.

  • Marisol says:

    The front grill looks like the mouth of the Predator monster.

  • R James Tobin says:

    What is most offensive is the rudeness of the driver kicking out the musicians to a deserted road.