"Grrr" easily won the Film Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival last year, and "Cog," a mesmerizing two-minute chain reaction rigged from Honda car parts, narrowly missed out on the same accolade in 2004. "Grrr" and "Cog" were the most-awarded commercials in the world in 2005 and 2004, according to the Gunn Report ranking of winners at the top awards shows.
The news broke last week as Mr. Thompson's swan song campaign for the brand, kicked off by another groundbreaking commercial, was set to break on U.K. TV on Jan. 13. "Choir" features a group of 60 vocalists "singing" the sounds of the Honda Civic as they travel through city streets and open road. The singers thump their chests as wheels bounce over cobbles.
Mr. Thompson, who did not return calls, has accepted a new job. Executives familiar with the matter said he will take a top marketing position at a telecommunications company.
Honda said in a statement, "Simon's drive, energy and creativity played a key part in reshaping Honda's image in the U.K. and in building public awareness for the Honda brand."
The company said it has no plans to change ad agencies and vowed to "continue to deploy its innovative approach to marketing to drive business success."
Mr. Thompson joined Honda in 1993. During the three years he oversaw U.K. car marketing, sales grew by 30%. Ewan Ramsey, who joined Honda U.K. this month as general manager from managing director of DaimlerChrysler's retail division, is in charge of the search for Mr. Thompson's successor.
"Simon is an intelligent, articulate, smart guy and he ensures that everyone at Honda shares a focused vision for the Power of Dreams," said Jonathan Campbell, group account director at W&K. "More than that, he makes sure everyone knows that the numbers prove the campaign is working. He has locked in all the brand planning and strategic planning for the future so that we can continue with business as normal."