Magazine article Marketing

Campaign Casebook: Honda

Magazine article Marketing

Campaign Casebook: Honda

Article excerpt

The car manufacturer used inspirational thinking as the basis of an image overhaul.

The most famous element of Honda's 'The power of dreams' campaign was the remarkable 'Cog' commercial, first screened on TV in April 2003, which showed a chain reaction involving individual components of the Honda Accord. The full execution ran for two minutes, although this was shown only 20 times.

A 30-second edited version was screened three times more often.

The ad generated a huge amount of publicity, with almost every daily newspaper running a feature on how it was made. Thousands of consumers downloaded the full version from Honda's website and forwarded it to their friends. To stretch the effectiveness of the campaign even further, Honda created a DVD on the making of the ad and distributed it with The Guardian, Top Gear and GQ. A further 500,000 of these DVDs were sent out to consumers who called or emailed to request them.

But the campaign comprised far more than just one iconic TV execution. The inspirational handbook Book of Dreams was the starting point. It set the brand's tone of voice and was used as a consumer device, being left in the glove box of every new model.

Questioning tone

The first TV ad under the positioning was produced in 2002. It highlighted the fact that 'OK' is the world's most commonly used phrase, suggesting that 'what if?' would be a better choice. Novelist Garrison Keillor was brought in to do voiceovers after one of the pitch team read his Lake Wobegon Days and heard tapes of his radio shows. The team felt his voice was global, intelligent and questioning.

Throughout summer 2002 and 2003, Honda ran four ads (for the Accord, Jazz, Civic, and CRV models) in rotation to blitz the target market with messages of 'Honda-ness'. Press and poster executions picked up on the theme of questioning negativity - one ad described how easy it is to write in biro on a banana, making the point that it is always worth looking at things in a new light.

All the press and poster ads stuck to the same style - bright colours with a very simple visual image. They included more than the average amount of copy, written in a gently witty, whimsical tone. Direct mail reflected this style and used images from the advertising.

Once the theme of the campaign was established, Honda could bring in more functional messages to demonstrate the ideas it had dreamed up. In May, TV and poster ads introduced the IMA engine that switches itself off when not in use. …

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