Precision Crafted Performance: 5 Questions With Acura’s Leila Cesario


Acura NSX

So far, the Acura NSX has more of a history in Super Bowl commercials than it does on the streets. The $156,000 “supercar” won’t be available for purchase until this spring but it already has starred in the brand’s most recent Big Game ad in 2012—and will be the focus of Acura’s 2016 Super Bowl campaign.

Why all the fuss? Well, the car is a spectacular specimen at a time when performance vehicles are trying to make a last, cheap-gasoline-fueled stand against the coming era of self-driving automobiles. NSX is a ground-hugging, mid-engine two-seater with a twin-turbocharged V6 engine and a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission. It’s also being built in Ohio, not typically considered a capital of neck-snapping performance vehicles.

Acura still needs a boost. It’s only got a couple of strong-selling nameplates in a US market that has become increasingly friendly to luxury marks and amid ever-stiffening competition. And while the made-to-order NSX will likely notch fewer than 1,000 sales this year, it’s meant to be a significant halo model for a brand that is recasting itself around a just-announced new mantra of “Precision Crafted Performance.”

“This is one of those products that you just want to let it speak for itself and you don’t want to get in the way of that message,” Leila Cesario, US advertising manager for Acura, told Ad Age.

Backed by the classic Van Halen song “Runnin’ with the Devil” (the first time the song has been licensed for commercial use), the spot dramatizes the process of making the new car, as extreme close-ups depict aluminum melting, sparks flying and the engine revving. The 2012 Super Bowl ad for NSX came out not long after Acura teased the future model and depicted Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno, those comic car buffs, competing to procure the first one off the production line.

brandchannel spoke with Cesario about the Super Bowl 50 campaign:

bc: How does the ad support Acura’s new “Precision Crafted Performance” positioning?

Leila Cesario Acura

Leila Cesario: The whole intention of this ad is to help deliver that positioning. In last week’s relaunch with a brand spot, we showed a bit of NSX tying in with all of our products. Now, for the Super Bowl, we’re showing NSX as the pinnacle expression of “Precision Crafted Performance.” Another expression is that, on the 30th anniversary of the Acura brand in the US, the NSX was designed, and will be manufactured, in Ohio. This spot embodies all those elements, including the red, white and blue you see at the end.

bc: How does “Precision Crafted Performance” represent the evolution of Acura?

Cesario: Acura’s original tagline was the “Precision Crafted” automobile. And while over the years the brand tag has evolved, precision-crafted performance was always our core DNA and has never left the Acura brand. With the relaunch of NSX, we’re going back and relaunching [the positioning] because it’s a new expression of what the brand always has represented.

Acura NSX

bc: When will the cars start being delivered to dealerships?

Cesario: In the spring. Beginning February 25, you can go to our online configurator, or to a dealer, to order one.

Acura Super Bowl 2016 ad

bc: Why did you choose to release the entire spot before the Super Bowl? Brands are going in different directions on this issue, with some just releasing teasers.

Cesario: We sent out a couple of teasers to influencers but this week, with the release of the ad, we’re just allowing people to start building that excitement around the launch of the vehicle itself and around the brand, leading up to the ad during the Super Bowl itself.

Acura NSX

Social media has changed the approach of brands going to market over the past five years. If we were to wait to reveal it on Super Bowl Sunday, we would leave quite a few views and exposures on the table. Now 80 percent of advertisers make their ads available prior to airing during the game, because 80 percent of ad views are happening online before, during and after the Super Bowl. Cumulatively we would lose impact if we waited.

bc: This year’s Big Game promises fewer auto advertisers than some previous Super Bowls. Does that matter to you?

Cesario: None of that really matters. It wasn’t a consideration for us. We’re very focused on getting the Acura’s “Precision Crafted Performance” message out and leveraging our pinnacle product to build excitement.

Get more branding insights in our Q&A series