Acura Launches Massive Campaign Without Broadcast Prime-time Buy

More Than One-Third of Budget Dedicated to Digital

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Acura is launching its new luxury sedan -- embarking on the biggest marketing campaign in its history -- without the help of broadcast prime time TV.

The American Honda division will promote the TLX with a robust campaign that includes a significant investment in digital video. Mike Accavitti, who in the spring took on the role of senior VP and general manager of the new Acura Division, said more than one-third of the campaign's overall budget is dedicated to digital, with Facebook being a big piece of the equation.

While Acura has already been beefing up its digital and social media marketing, for the TLX launch it's investing more in content creation, generating bite-sized videos designed to target different types of consumers. On Facebook, Acura will run a massive "road block," with TLX videos reaching 100% of users, Mr. Accavitti said. It will also do a takeover on major web portals like Yahoo and MSN.

Michael Accavitti
Michael Accavitti

Mr. Accavitti declined to provide details on how much Acura is spending on the campaign or on specific platforms other than to say it is the biggest campaign in the company's history. Last year, the brand spent $170 million on measured media, according to the Ad Age DataCenter.

Of course, TV is still a significant part of Acura's marketing plan, with more than half of the campaign's budget dedicated to the traditional screen. It's important to note that some of what Acura considers "TV," includes long-form, high-quality content on platforms like Hulu and Crackle. The brand's TV buys also include spots airing within the NFL, some late-night and top cable networks, including ESPN's "SportsCenter."

"It's still too early to launch a car without TV," said Ed Beadle, senior marketing manager of the Acura Division.

Still, it decided to stay away from broadcast prime time. Mr. Beadle said there has been a meaningful change in media consumption behavior. As the brand evaluated who is actually buying its cars, execs saw it is those customers who are highly engaged in mobile.

For that reason, Acura has been the exclusive sponsor of Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" on Crackle. Acura signed on for four more seasons of the show in May. Mr. Seinfeld has created custom content for Acura to run before and during the web series.

The TLX campaign will kick off on Aug. 17 with the TV spot, "My Way," featuring a Sid Vicious rendition of the iconic song, as well as eight additional 15-second spots. The spot was designed to capture the passion of Acura's design, development and manufacturing engineers as they built a car they wanted to drive, Mr. Accavitti said. The campaign carries the theme, "it's that kind of thrill."

Acura worked with Mullen LA on the creative, while MediaVest is its media agency.

The company has also teamed up with the New Yorker for what it is calling "Thrillustrations," which will run in the magazine and are shareable on social media.

This is the first major campaign from the auto maker since it was split into its own division. Previously, American Honda separated roles by function, rather than brand, with Mr. Accavitti overseeing product planning and national marketing for both Honda and Acura.

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