Accord pitch goes for heart

Honda is taking its advertising “Beyond the Road,” with a new integrated national campaign that debuted September 10 to promote the new redesign of the popular Honda Accord.

The campaign, which was developed in conjunction with interactive agency RPA, Honda’s long-standing agency of record, steers away from the traditionally practical affiliation of the car to communicate a more emotional message.

“A lot of people have purchased the Accord for practical reasons but we wanted to boost the emotional side,” said Brett Bender, vice president and management supervisor at RPA. “A large chunk of buyers in the past have been Baby Boomers and we are trying to reach this audience, as well as Gen X and even Gen Y, as they will be the future buyers. We have found that both of these demographics respond well to emotional advertising.”

A lifestyle approach

The “Beyond the Road” campaign aims to separate the Accord from other vehicles in its class, playing up the fact that the new Accord was designed with the drivers and their lives in mind. The three television spots, which launched on ESPN on September 10 during Monday night football, feature the Electric Light Orchestra’s song “Hold on Tight,” and the voice of actor Kevin Spacey, who returns to speak for the brand on TV. It also includes three 15-second spots will be used primarily online.

The TV spots will air on the premieres of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “NCIS,” and NBC customized mini episodes will star the Accord during new primetime shows including “Bionic Woman,” “Chuck,” “Journeyman,” “Life” and “My Name Is Earl.”

In addition, a TiVo initiative partners the Accord with ABC. Fifteen-second Accord pre-rolls will be placed before ABC Fall First Look promotional footage on the TiVo showcase.

The launch also includes rich media portal homepage roadblocks, which are scheduled on Yahoo, MSN and AOL. On AOL, Accord will be the first-ever auto advertiser to run a one-hour network takeover and on MSN, Accord will be featured on rich media roadblocks across high-profile front pages.

The campaign also includes multimedia partnerships including one with Entertainment Weekly. In its Entertainer of the Year November 30 issue, which highlights a person who has made an impact on the lives of entertainment enthusiasts, the gatefold will feature an editorial.

In addition the partnership will include an online sponsorship of the first ever Reader’s Choice Entertainer of the Year game, two homepage roadblocks and six-week sponsorship of “The Five” video series with 15-second pre-roll.

Partnership marketing

Other multimedia partners include Sports Illustrated, MTV Networks, Citysearch, CNET, ESPN, Internet Movie Database, Time, YouTube, USAToday and Wired.

“IMBD and MTV have created custom microsites that appeal to the Gen X demographic, and these sites are brought to you by the new Honda Accord,” said Edmund Purcell, interactive management supervisor at RPA. “The idea is to take content that they already have and to repackage it to attract this audience.”

Print for the campaign debuted in USA Today on September 11 with newspaper wraps on September 16 in Accord’s top markets. Ads will also be featured in BusinessWeek, Entertainment Weekly, GQ, In Style, Real Simple and Vanity Fair. The campaign also includes outdoor billboards, in-theater commercials, sponsorship on XM Satellite Radio, airport dioramas and subway tunnels in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington.

Events will be held for more awareness including the “Shop Accordingly” days, which will be held in conjunction with Macy’s stores in San Francisco and Chicago. These events will feature on-site vehicle displays, giveaways and product specialists. One Accord grand prize will be given away at each location.

“These two Macy’s stores get a lot of foot traffic, so it is about building awareness and attention,” Bender added. “Macy’s demographic also matches up with who we are targeting in the 25-49 year old range with moderate income.”

Another event called the Accord Coupe College Marketing Program will let Honda on the campuses of 20 universities where students can design marketing campaigns to support the new Accord Coupe. Three finalists will present their campaigns to American Honda and are awarded cash grants for their universities.

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