Honda has long been known for conservative vehicle styling and a steady-as-she-goes approach to building sales and market share, which has worked remarkably well over the decades.
But increasingly, Honda is the auto brand that is pushing the envelope with its marketing and advertising efforts in the US and elsewhere, taking flyers on damaged and strange platforms, producing some of the most notable new social media campaigns, and putting a lot of money and muscle behind a minivan segment that many automakers have written off. Year-to-date sales are up 9 percent, so something is working.
The latest examples include a new addition to its “Start Something Special” ad campaign that has been underscoring the relationships that people have with their Hondas. The brand has created a #StartSomething hashtag to invite stories by Honda fans that will be archived digitally and then evolve into efforts under the “Honda Loves You Back” program—what Honda marketing executive Michael Accavitti called “feel-good surprises we’ve orchestrated over the past few yeas to show gratitude to those who have expressed love for the brand.”[more]
To launch “Start Something Special” on social media, Honda arranged for the use of eight black Honda CR-Vs for a Honda-fan couple at their wedding. It also has introduced two new national brand TV spots that explore the “loving Honda” theme. At the same time, Honda also has introduced a new video spot in the UK that uses the techniques of optical illusionist M.C. Escher to lend super-physical capabilities to its new DTEC Diesel version of the CR-V.
Such efforts follow Honda’s detailed effort over the summer to rescue some of the dwindling remnants of America’s drive-in-movie business by using a crowdfunded approach to help buy required digital projectors for the operators of some of the establishments. Looking to stretch its heroics even more, Honda has joined as the major automotive advertising sponsor of the troubled Fox show, The X Factor, taking Chevrolet’s place.
Maybe most amazingly, Honda is putting a lot of resources these days behind a minivan segment that some competitors long have written off and that others, such as Volkswagen, are just getting around to foreswearing. With sales of its Odyssey just flat for the year compared with last year through October, Honda neverthless has extended its campaign featuring the vehicle’s new on-board vacuum cleaner and animated “spokescrumbs” voiced by actors Rainn Wilson and Neil Patrick Harris.
“We need to take some more risks with our marketing,” Accavitti told Automotive News recently. And he’s making that happen.