Auto marketers have a perennial challenge: how to goose slower sales periods, whether the dead of winter, post-holiday belt-tightening or the dog days of summer? Honda's new U.S. campaign for its summer-clearance sale is just the latest example.
Honda has just hatched a batch of six new TV spots that combine the conventions of Hollywood film endings with catchy tunes and spoof a variety of movie genres to make a single point: Honda's got some really good deals in its seasonal closeout going on right now.
"Buying a new Honda sparks a happily-ever-after moment that is almost magical," said Susie Rossick, Senior Manager at American Honda Motor Co., in a press release. "The iconic songs in this campaign stir up those same powerful emotions, reminding people in an unforgettable way that this is the best time of year to get a great deal on a Honda."
The goal is to target six key demographics with their own Hollywood moment and soundtrack. The six spots aim to be "pitch-perfect parodies of Hollywood movie-ending clichés, with the action-adventure, family comedy, buddy, college adventure, girl-power and inspirational genres each taking a turn onscreen. Following a farewell from a friendly salesperson, an instantly recognizable song kicks on, the elated driver zooms off and the credits roll."
So there's "the Diaz Family" and the Honda Oydssey they're purchasing, starring in the TV sitcom-like "Family Comedy," against the strains of Pete Townshend's Let My Love Open the Door. Also "Parker Smith" as "New Accord Owner" in "Action Adventure," a spot set to Judas Priest's You've Got Another Thing Coming. "College Movie" shows a new Civic owner and his college buddies jamming through town to Outasight's Tonight Is the Night. "Buddy Film" features OneRepublic's Good Life. Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Derek and the Dominos' Layla are the soundtracks for the other two spots.
But while relying on what has almost become a Honda brand of low-voltage humor in its marketing, the campaign is part of a much broader tendency on the part of the U.S. auto industry to try to make hay at times of the year that previously were fallow.
The week after Christmas, for instance, used to be deadsville in U.S. car dealerships. But several years ago a handful of auto brands experimented at turning that week into a hotbed of sales incentives. Then Lexus came up with its red-bow promotional campaign, and now December is one of the most-contested months of the automotive year.
Same for July. Clearing dealer inventories of old models isn't exactly a ticket to excitement in marketing. But when carmakers combine the kinds of sales incentives they're usually compelled to offer at this time of year with some sort of marketing hook — like the money-back idea that Chevrolet hatched last week with "Chevy Confidence" — they can gain some valuable sales and at least temporary market-share points.
In a U.S. market that's expected to get even more competitive as the year goes on, and with Honda still trying to recover from its disastrous 2011, the company wants to get some traction. And if it takes an ad with a soundtrack of Cyndi Lauper singing "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" to get a few more female boomers into the showroom, that's what Honda is going to do.
Spots will air on U.S. broadcast TV network programs including America's Got Talent, Castle, NCIS, The Middle, The Office, Two Broke Girls, Vampire Diaries and cable networks including A&E, Animal Planet, Bravo, Discovery and TBS. Print ads will be featured in national publications such as People, Sports Illustrated, TIME and USA Today.
Online ads will run in top automobile and consumer websites, including AOL Autos, Automotive.com, AutoTrader, Autobytel, Bing, Car and Driver, Cars.com, Edmunds, Facebook, Google, Jumpstart, Kelley Blue Book, Motor Trend, MSN Autos, Road & Track, Source Interlink Media, Vehix and Yahoo! Autos.
In addition, a Summer Clearance sweepstakes launched July 16th at shophonda.com. Users can enter for a chance to win free gas for a year or be awarded instant-win $100 American Express gas card prizes.