Acura kicks off Suissa-created ads

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Acura is rolling with advertising from new agency Suissa Miller. But it's still test-driving its media-buying relationship with Western International Media.

American Honda Motor Co.'s luxury division last week began ads featuring the new tagline, "The true definition of luxury. Yours."

Suissa Miller, Los Angeles, used that line in its winning pitch for Acura's $100 million account last October.


Eric Conn, senior manager of automotive advertising, said the new campaign builds awareness for Acura's letter-and-number models; it began introducing the alphabet models--CL, RL, TL--two years ago but is still trying to cement their image.

The next phase of the drive will start this fall, when Mr. Conn said Acura ads will put more focus on the models' product benefits.

The campaign was launched on network, cable and spot TV with a 30-second spot for Acura's $41,000 flagship, the RL sedan. The spot shows the car in different color and b&w vignettes--racing down a road; splashing through water; carrying away a bride and groom; shuttling a young family--with music shifting from classic to opera to jazz to match the mood.

Title cards separate vignettes with words to explain the RL--"Performance," "Elegance," "Comfort."

"The old advertising wandered a bit, maybe tried to get a little too upscale," Mr. Conn said. In contrast, the new campaign is "good, crisp communication . . . the style is distinct, not snobbish or overbearing."

Acura and the agency are developing three more spots, one each for TL and CL, another for RL.

Acura sales are on an upswing. Sales through March advanced 11.5%, though that was well below the growth of Toyota Motor Sales USA's Lexus and Nissan Motor Corp. USA's Infiniti.


Car industry watchers were surprised when Acura picked long-shot Suissa Miller, but Mr. Conn credited agency principals David Suissa and Bruce Miller for delivering the goods.

Mr. Conn said Acura sent Messrs. Suissa and Miller out to visit the specific dealers who had been most critical of the former agency.

Suissa Miller handled media planning, using network time purchased by previous agency Fathom, Los Angeles, supplemented by new time bought by Western, West Hollywood, Calif.

Mr. Conn said Western got the business because it was Suissa Miller's main buying service.

"Here's a chance for us to work with a media-buying service and see if that's a way we'd like to do business," he said.

Copyright April 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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