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Honda Launches YouTube Music Channel 'Honda Stage'

Company Seeks Millennials Resistant to Traditional Advertising

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In its ongoing quest to lure younger audiences, American Honda is announcing its own YouTube music channel dubbed "Honda Stage."

In effect, Honda wants to become its own music curator and content delivery platform for the nation's hottest songs and artists. The automaker believes music is the right way to reach millennials tuning out TV, radio and print ads.

"TV, as we know it many aspects, doesn't work as well to reach a 28-year old," said Tom Peyton, assistant VP-advertising and marketing for American Honda. "It still works pretty good for Baby Boomers. But it doesn't work as well for 25-year olds and 28-year olds."

Honda plans to announce what it describes as a "360-degree, multi-platform music program" at its U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif., today.

To make the strategy a reality, Honda is teaming with Live Nation, Clear Channel's iHeartRadio, Revolt, YouTube and Vevo to create and distribute original music content through the new Honda Stage channel.

Once online visitors get there, Mr. Peyton said they'll see exclusive online performances, videos and interviews from the nation's biggest acts.

MediaVest helped formulate the Honda Stage idea, he said. The unplugged strategy will just be for the Honda brand. It will not include sister luxury division Acura. Ad agency RPA will support with new creative work.

Through its deal with Clear Channel, Honda will receive rights to video taken from "dozens" of Honda Stage-branded live performances at the iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles over the next 12 months, Honda said. Live shows produced by concert promoter Live Nation Entertainment and bearing the Honda Stage brand also will feed videos to the channel.

A deal with Revolt, a music cable-TV network owned by rapper and music impresario Sean Combs, will create a Honda Stage at Revolt's studios in Los Angeles. Videos of live, in-studio performances and interviews will be fed to the Honda Stage channel and be broadcast on Revolt's cable channel and through other Revolt digital channels.

More video will come from performances on Honda-sponsored stages at major music festivals in the United States, including the Governors Ball in New York, Austin City Limits in Texas and Music Midtown in Atlanta.

To drive traffic to the Honda Stage channel, Honda, its music industry partners and artists themselves will promote new video content using social media.

This isn't Honda's first foray into music. The automaker has sponsored the Honda Civic Tour since 2001. More than 3.5 million people have attended Civic Tour concerts featuring acts such as The Black Eyed Peas, Maroon 5 and Linkin Park.

"Music's been good and we've had some learnings there," Peyton said. "But we now need to go beyond experiential and how do you get some reach if you're really going to use this as a marketing platform."

The Honda division spends over $700 million a year on ads. So where will the money come from? Mr. Peyton wouldn't get specific except to say that Honda is spending more of its budget on digital marketing.

Mr. Peyton believes that dollar for dollar, Honda Stage can generate more impressions and more effectively reach its target audience than traditional media such as TV commercials.

If all goes as planned, he predicts Honda Stage will generate 100 million views and 2 billion impressions over its first year. With over 1 million fans expected to attend 200 live events around the country, Honda Stage will also be an "experiential play," said Mr. Peyton.

"At that point, it really becomes a media communication outlet for us similar to anything we do on TV," Peyton said in an interview. "If I can drive 10 million or 15 million views a month to the Honda Stage channel, that's semiequivalent to a cable TV buy over 30 days."

--With additional reporting from Automotive News' Ryan Beene

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