Balance (advertisement)

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Lexus Balance ad.jpg
Champagne glass pyramid on LS 400
AgencyTeam One
Running time30 seconds
Release date(s)1989 (Television)
Directed byGary Johns
Music byPiece of Cake
John + Gorman Films
Produced byFrancesca Cohn

Balance was a 1989 television advertisement for the Lexus LS 400, which also introduced the luxury car make Lexus to American television audiences.[1][2] It was created by Team One, a unit of Saatchi & Saatchi. The ad was designed to promote the engineering attributes of the flagship Lexus sedan.[3] The advertisement received several awards and was emulated by later versions.[4]


The advertisement showed the Lexus LS 400 on rollers, with a set of champagne glasses stacked on its hood.[5] The LS400 engine and drivetrain were required to quickly accelerate from stop and shift through all the gears to reach the equivalent top speed of over 145 mi (233 km) per hour. Despite the quick shifts and the fast speed, the LS 400 engine produces no vibrations to upset the champagne glass pyramid, and not one drop of liquid is spilled. The narration reads, "After years of intense work, Lexus is ready to celebrate...because even at the equivalent of 145 miles per hour (230 km/h), the Lexus LS 400 is designed to stir the soul...and not much else."


The Team One advertising campaign for the Lexus launch, including the Balance ad, received a number of advertising awards.[6] Industry publication Adweek named the Balance ad one of its Best Spots of 1990, as listed in a retrospective.[7] The Belding Awards, presented by the Advertising Club of Los Angeles, recognized Team One for their early Lexus campaign.[8] The Balance ad was also challenged by consumer advocate David Horowitz,[2] on his Fight Back! With David Horowitz television program, who suggested that Lexus had staged the advertisement in some way unseen to the audience.[2] In response, Lexus produced a third-party verification videotape, and performed a live demonstration for the studio audience of the same feat, showing that indeed the LS 400 could perform as promised.[2] The stacking of champagne glasses was also used for the formal introduction of the LS 400 at Pebble Beach.[9] In factory, Lexus models use a similar wine glass test.[10]

In 2011, a YouTube video went viral of a Lexus owner failing to recreate the feat on his LS460, and thus claiming that the advertisement was deceptive. Lexus uploaded a rebuttal on their official YouTube channel demonstrating that not only could the feat be recreated on a brand new LS460, but also recreated the feat with a 1990 LS400, and claimed that the viral video's attempt failed because the hood of the sedan was not level - the vehicle's front end hadn't been adequately raised to compensate for the downward slope of the hood.[11]

Later versions[edit]

Several car manufacturers referenced the Balance ad in subsequent commercials.[12] In separate instances, Nissan and BMW mentioned the champagne glasses test in their ads.[13] The Nissan ads, designed for the debut of the mass market Nissan Altima in 1993, duplicated the Lexus displays of champagne glasses and ball bearings, and specifically referenced the Lexus advertisements.[13] The BMW ads mocked the champagne glasses test as an unnecessary indicator of performance.[13] In the late 1990s, Lexus added advertisements that focused on fun and entertainment, in addition to engineering precision.[14] The earlier ads were seen as a highly rational appeal.[4] In 2006, Lexus referenced Balance with a new ad for the fourth-generation Lexus LS 460. Titled Pyramid, the ad depicted a driver parking a car between two stacks of champagne glasses using the Advanced Parking Guidance System, a new Lexus automatic parking feature.[15]In 2020, Lexus referenced Balance with a new ad for the fifth-generation Lexus LS 500 h by Akio Toyoda. Titled “Champagne Tower”, the ad depicted a driver parking a car between two stacks of champagne glasses on the bonnet of a brand new LS-500. With the car sitting on a rolling road on a slight incline (to compensate for the slope of the bonnet), Toyoda then fired up the car and drove it to the same speed as in the original commercial, before climbing out and celebrating with a sip.[16]


  • Client: Lexus, Rich Anderman
  • Agency: Team One, El Segundo, California
  • Creative Director: Tom Cordner
  • Artistic Director: Kathryn Windley
  • Copy Writer: Steve Silver
  • Agency Producer: Francesca Cohn
  • Production Company. John + Gorman Films
  • Director: Gary Johns
  • Editor: Steve Wystrach, Wystrach Inc.
  • Music: Piece of Cake
  • Narrator: James Sloyan


  1. ^ "Lexus' GM: "You Can Have It All"". BusinessWeek. March 24, 2003. Archived from the original on 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  2. ^ a b c d Dawson, Chester (2004). "Lexus: The Relentless Pursuit", pp. 119-120. John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd., Singapore. ISBN 0-470-82110-8
  3. ^ Zaun, Todd (February 20, 2003). "Introduction of Lexus". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  4. ^ a b Kiley, David (July 27, 1998). "Creating the New Gold Standard - selling Lexus". Brandweek. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  5. ^ Car & Driver v.37 1991 Jul-Dec, "Life with Lexus LS 400", p. 5
  6. ^ "Recording Lexus' Smooth Ride." Daily News of Los Angeles, January 5, 1993.
  7. ^ "Adweek Best Spots - Lexus". Adweek. March 20, 2000. Archived from the original on 2007-12-18. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  8. ^ Horovitz, Bruce. "San Diego Agency Wins Regional Ad Award Marketing." The Los Angeles Times, Mar 23, 1992. pg. 2
  9. ^ Comeback: The Fall and Rise of the American Automobile Industry, by Paul Ingrassia, Joseph B. White, p. 238
  10. ^ Rowley, Ian (2007). "The Making of Lexus - Smooth Running". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  11. ^ Lexus Owner Stacks Wine Glasses on Hood In Attempt to Replicate LS400 Commercial
  12. ^ "Do the Best Ads on TV Always Cost the Most?" Rocky Mountain News, May 25, 1995
  13. ^ a b c Robert Goldman, Stephen Papson. Sign Wars: The Cluttered Landscape of Advertising. Guilford Press, 1996 ISBN 1-57230-034-5, p. 34
  14. ^ Kiley, David (July 27, 1998). "Creating the New Gold Standard - selling Lexus". Brandweek. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  15. ^ Selingo, Jeffrey (October 24, 2007). "How Well Can Lexus Park Itself?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  16. ^ "Lexus Recreates the Timeless 'Champagne Glass' Commercial for the New LS-500". March 10, 2020. Retrieved 2020-03-10.

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