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Consider paul sellers' challenge: launching the 1998 Honda Accord, with the most significant redesign in the car's 22-year history.

He did it with the largest campaign in American Honda Motors Co.'s history, $100 million during the model year, and the new tag, "An Accord like no other," from Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif.

"The manner in which we treated the announcement was almost paying homage to Accord over the past 22 years," says Mr. Sellers, manager of national auto advertising at the Honda Division.

Ads emphasized improved attributes of the bigger Accord, such as more interior space, performance and quietness. Still, the sticker price is about the same as its predecessor; the average increase was about 0.5%, or about $110 versus the 1997 model. So, the car is a good value, adds Mr. Sellers.

TV spots broke in September, when Accord was the exclusive auto sponsor of the season premier of NBC's "Seinfeld." The ads will run through June. In one, a cat croons "I'm in the mood for love."

Honda's "clean" Accord LEV is featured in an environmental-related spot in a co-branding effort with Procter & Gamble Co.'s Mr. Clean.

Accord got an integrated push, including a 400,000-unit direct mailing to both existing Accord and competitive-model owners, and Web site banner ads that can steer prospects to Honda's site and bolster its database. Bus wraps tout the Accord coupe in 25 key markets.

Accord seems to have a good chance at the U.S. car sales' crown in 1998. In '97 Accord, sold 384,609 units and missed getting the crown to Toyota's Camry by just 12,547 units. But during the first four months of '98, Accord sold 125,863 to Camry's 70,100.

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