Honda is punctuating its 2012 comeback in the U.S. market with souped-up output and fetching advertising for the new 2013 Accord mid-size sedan.
Throwing the ninth generation of its mainstay Accord — the first substantially overahauled version since 2008 — into the increasingly competitive and crowded U.S. mid-size sedan market with its official launch this week, Honda is beginning a new integrated advertising campaign "designed to artfully highlight the new Accord's sophisticated design, dynamic performance, rich feature content and value," according to a Honda press release.
And, in fact, the new ads do just that, in the early stages of Honda's "It Starts With You" campaign. The print ads feature, for instance, a bee-startled driver and the caption "Lane Departure Warning. Because Distractions Happen" and a caught-in-the-headlights startled deer (Caption: "LED Headlights.").
In Accord's first-ever 90-second TV spot, "We Know You," Honda cleverly and realistically depicts all the different ways in which Americans use Accords and how the new vehicle's features will help them use the car even better.
There's a depiction of the car's comfortable seats because a driver wants to pull over and naps in one. New safety and sensing technology helps a family avoid rear-ending a suddenly stopping vehicle ahead of them. Accord's night-piercing headlights illuminate a woman's dreary chore of dragging the trash canisters through the dark and rain.
And there are nods to how Americans really are feeling these days as well as to how they might use the new Accord. There's acknowledgement that people are working too hard and not sleeping enough, for instance. That kind of stuff could resonate with American consumers who are living in a real world that often continues to be all too daunting. And it represents an interesting evolution in Honda advertising that has always been more straightforward, less emotional.
A two-minute commercial, "Chef," highlights the vehicle's technology. The description for the spot, below: "Introducing the all-new 2013 Honda Accord Sedan—a vehicle with a blend of both elegance and sophistication. Overflowing with technology, the well-appointed interior is a virtual command center for your daily needs, such as getting to work or finding the perfect truffle."
Check out the shorter Accord TV commercials breaking this week on the brand's YouTube channel, while Honda's press release elaborates on the 2013 campaign:
Subsequent spots highlight specific areas of the Accord's new feature set: technology, luxury, performance and safety. A series of 15-second spots focus on specific features like Lane Departure Warning and Honda's exclusive LaneWatch™ blind spot camera system. Spots will be seen during the Emmys® and during the most-talked-about new-season premieres, including "CSI," "Dancing with the Stars," "Fringe," "Mike and Molly," "Modern Family," "NCIS," "Revenge," "60 Minutes," "The Good Wife," "The Mentalist" and several others. There will be additional presence during the MLB World Series, college football, NFL, NHL Winter Classic and regular-season games and the NBA. Accord video units will also run prior to connected TV app content such as movies, TV and music via gaming consoles and Smart TV devises. In a Honda first, the Spanish-language TV spot will debut on an English-language network when it airs on NBC during the 2012 NCLR ALMA Awards on September 21.
The print, outdoor and online extensions of the campaign take a lighter look at humanity. Simple and iconic portraits of people demonstrate the benefits of a particular advanced Accord feature. In one execution, a woman's overly large hairstyle hinders her peripheral vision, making a strong case for the vehicle's LaneWatch™ capability. Other ads feature a baby lulled to sleep by the Accord's extra-quiet interior and a bubble-gum-blowing executive whose view is blocked by an enormous bubble, showing a moment where the vehicle's new Forward Collision Warning could help prevent an accident.
Print will run in Forbes, People and Wired and in high-profile special issues, including Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and TIME's Person of the Year issue. Outdoor will be seen in 28 markets, and national in-theater will run in October.
Two premier digital firsts will position Accord creative in new and interesting places:
* One of the first advertisers to integrate with Pulse, a news aggregating mobile and tablet app and will be featured on many of the most popular feeds.
* To create immediate reach, home-page takeovers are planned on AOL, MSN, Yahoo! and YouTube. The Accord will also be the presenting sponsor of a new original Yahoo! video series, "The Road to Saturday," which follows college football teams in a documentary style as they prepare for an upcoming game. In addition, Accord creative will also be integrated into the two largest mobile social games: Words With Friends and Scramble With Friends.
As it gets busy getting the word out to consumers, the Japanese automaker is trying to make sure that it provides U.S. dealers with enough of the 2013 Accord that it'll be able to take advantage of the strong demand it expects. No new Honda model has been built at a faster pace and with fewer flaws than the new Accord being built for the US. market in Ohio, a company executive commented to Automotive Newws.
Honda did a softer rollout, with less-than-stellar marketing, and levels of interior features that some critics knocked, when it brought out the equally important Honda Civic compact last year. The earthquake and tsunami in 2011 also set back the debut of the new Civic. Civic is only now beginning to attain the kind of sales momentum that Honda wanted.
With the new Accord, Honda is determined for a better start.