The spot highlights that track record by showing products such as the 1949 Honda Dream D-Type, the company’s first motorcycle, as well as its first passenger car, the S600. Also shown is the RA272 Formula 1 race car, which was the first Honda to win an F1 race in 1965. Two Civis are shown: the 1973 model that Honda attributes to leading the industry in meeting strict exhaust emissions regulations without the use of a catalytic converter; and its new 2022 Civic.
The 73-year-old company has long used the “Power of Dreams” tagline to tout its history, including with a sweeping two-minute ad in 2015 that used stop-motion and 3,000 hand-drawn illustrations to take viewers on a historical journey of Honda products.
But the new campaign represents the “biggest investment we’ve made in that high-level corporate messaging and brand messaging probably in a decade in the United States. It’s probably on par with a product launch,”Joseph said.
The media buy includes NFL, NHL and college sports programming on ESPN and CBS, as well as ads on Bravo, TNT, and CNBC, along with Hispanic networks such as Univision and Telemundo. Marketing will also run in streaming programming on Hulu, Prime Video, and Pluto in addition to digital lifestyle buys on properties including BuzzFeed, Thrillist, Popsugar and Wunderkind, plus social media platforms Pinterest, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.
The investment comes as Honda, like other automakers, curbs “buy-now” sales event advertising amid vehicle shortages caused by a shortage of microchips used in car parts that has been plaguing the auto industry for months. Inventory issues played a part in American Honda's U.S. sales falling 25% in September and 11% in the third quarter, according to Automotive News. Vehicles are being scooped up as soon as they hit dealerships.
“We’ve definitely pulled media weight back from sales events,” Joseph said. While Honda did market some summer sales events, it is currently evaluating how much it will pour into its annual “Happy Honda Days” winter event, he said. “We like the positive holiday messaging, but with demand [oustsripping] supply there is not an urgent need to drive traffic at year end. Frankly, there are not enough vehicles on the ground to justify investing heavily into that.”
“We’ll probably lean more into this higher-level brand messaging,” he said, referring to the “Origin of Determination” campaign.
The ad spending decisions come as Honda finalizes an agency review for its so-called Tier 2 media business, which includes regional advertising that is often used to plug sales incentives and is closely linked with individual dealer efforts.
The process—which began earlier this year— involved trimming the number of ad associations that represent multiple dealers in the same region from 108 groups to 56, while cutting the Tier 2 media agency roster from 30 shops to between five and 10. The review will wrap up “over next few weeks,” Joseph said, but he confirmed that incumbents RPA and Horizon Media “are well represented.”
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