Honda just unveiled the new version of its iconic Civic compact sedan at the YouTube Space in Los Angeles and is gearing up to introduce the line—which will include the first Honda turbo engine in the US—via advertising later this fall.
But that’s not what Honda is marketing these days. Instead, in a new television commercial and companion online effort titled “The Power of Dreams,” Honda is using an unusual two-minute TV spot to portray the history and range of its products and its credibility as an innovator.
In the ad titled “Paper” which the brand debuted during NFL games on Sunday, the Academy Award-nominated PES creative house uses more than 3,000 hand-drawn illustrations on various types of paper, stop-motion photography and inventive camera tricks to tell the history of Honda’s innovations. It opens with founder Soichiro Honda’s use of a radio generator to power his wife’s bicycle, continues with Honda’s development of motorcycles and its racing heritage, segues to outboard motors and then to the first CVCC vehicle and on to airplanes.
The ad ranges across a series of past Honda vehicle models including multiple generations of Civic and Accord and the all-new 2016 Pilot. It concludes with the copy, “You never know where a dream will lead you.”
Honda will also open up an interactive version of the ad online that highlights each product shown and allows users to explore its history and significance to Honda. And there are various social media executions.
brandchannel talked with Tom Peyton, assistant vice president of marketing for American Honda Motor, about “Paper” and the new campaign.
brandchannel: Why did you choose to make an effort behind Honda’s brand history, heritage and overall attributes right now instead of something more product- or car-oriented?
Tom Peyton: We make an outstanding product but lots of people are making great cars these days. So it’s tougher to stand out from the crowd. The strategic advantage we have is our culture and our philosophy, which we really want to play up and have people buy into. They’re not only buying a terrific Honda product but are buying into the whole philosophy of demonstrated innovation and technology, and certainly a company that’s not afraid to dream.
We want people to say, “When I buy into Honda, I’m buying into a bigger concept, an idea of what the company stands for and how they go about business.” We don’t think that’s necessarily pervasive in the car industry.
bc: Why did you broaden your message beyond Honda’s great capability in motor vehicles?
Peyton: At the heart of everything we do, we are an engine manufacturer—the largest maker of engines in the world. They go into a lot of great products and they’re really at the core of what the company is—an engineering and engine company. Almost all of the products in “Paper” are known for being unique or among the best in their class. That’s pretty special. And so the online runoff is another important part of this campaign, where people can discover, “I didn’t know Honda made marine engines … or jets.” That’s a big part of it.
bc: How did you decide on this fascinating technique for actually telling the story?
Peyton: It had taken months and months of creative review to come up with this particular concept. At the end of the day, it had to be an ad that was as unique as the culture of the company, to pass the litmus test. And this is an exquisite form of paper engineering: 3,000 illustrations all done and painstakingly flipped, one at a time, in a stop-motion capture technique that really speaks to the intricacies of how we develop products as a company.
When the agency brought this to us, we said, “Yes, this is something only Honda can do.” It speaks to our process. Hopefully, it stands out. We’re already getting lots of comments consistent with what we were hoping for.
bc: Will “Paper” segue into the Civic marketing launch?
Peyton: There will be some linkage back to this effort, so that’s good. Also, “Paper” just creates a great underpinning for any future advertising we do. So Civic definitely will get hooked up with that.
bc: What do you think will be the effect on your rival Volkswagen, from its troubles with misstating emissions results?
Peyton: I’m not going to comment on that.