Acura Went Totally Mobile With Its Energetic TV Campaign

Campaign Via MullenLowe Has Platform Flexibility Built-In

Published On
Apr 11, 2017

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In Acura's new campaign, it's hard to tell what moves faster -- the car or the ads themselves. The marketer crammed roughly 50 unique images in each one of its five 30-second spots and about 25 images in each of its seven 15-second ads. Each scene shot is vertically and layered into the TV commercials by dividing the screen in three.

The colorful mishmash -- which includes flashes of random images like a sci-fi superhero in a red metal suit, a fist-punching astronaut, video game footage-- is aimed at giving Acura's new 2018 TLX luxury sedan a modern, youthful feel. But the campaign, called "What a Ride," also has a more practical goal when it comes to Acura's media buy: The visuals are shot vertically so they are easily transferable to mobile ad formats. And Acura purposely avoided celebrities and spoken dialogue so that it can adjust the ads on the fly to adapt to market conditions. The so-called modular approach means that if, for instance, Acura wants to tout all-wheel drive in cold-weather cities, it could easily toss in that message in a quick scene without rejiggering the entire ad.

"We also can see what combination performs best over time. Or if we are hearing feedback in terms of other attributes of the car that we may not have predicted, it's very easy for us to cut it and have that option available quickly," said Ed Beadle, senior manager-integrated marketing at Acura. "If you are relying on the schtick of some heavy talent spot with comedy and plucky one-liners, it's very difficult to try to adjust that messaging."

Agencies on the Acura campaign include MullenLowe Los Angeles for creative and RPA for media buying. (Acura is owned by Honda, which recently shifted media duties to RPA.)

This type of flexible approach, including vertical visuals, has gained in popularity across the ad industry as brands seek to make ads that are suitable for TV and mobile, where viewers often encounter spots with the sound off. It is proof of how much mobile players like Snapchat and Instagram Stories -- which use vertical video ad formats -- are influencing creative approaches.

The TV spots, which will break at the end of May, are backed by the song "The Movement" by Kid Ink. Acura debuted the new TLX campaign at an event Tuesday at the ArtBeam venue near the New York International Auto Show, which gets underway this week at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. Pop singer Elle King is scheduled to perform Acura's event.

Read the full story on the campaign's strategy on