American Pop: 5 Questions With Susie Rossick, Honda US


Honda Summer Clearance

Seasonal sales events have become a one-two punch for auto brands in the US each year, first in mid-summer as Labor Day starts to come into view, and then during the end of year holiday season. And few brands have proven as adept as Honda at throwing right-left combinations at stocks of vehicles with promotional marketing.

The annual “Happy Honda Days” theme before Christmas has allowed Honda to compete for attention with the luxury brands that try to dominate holiday gift-giving. And Honda’s Summer Clearance Event has become an annual exercise to behold.

Honda Summer Clearance

However, this year’s summer campaign, dubbed “Now Is the Moment,” provides a new twist on Honda’s long-running and increasing use of music as a promotional medium.

This year’s initiative debuts six music-themed videos that attach a particular song to each of a half-dozen Honda models and, as the automaker put it, “bring to life the love-at-first-sight feeling that happens when someone finds their dream ride.”

“This eye-catching campaign celebrates that moment when a buyer falls for a new Honda, and the Honda brand begins an enduring connection with the consumer,” said Susie Rossick, assistant vice president of marketing for Honda US, in a press release. “Ultimately, our goal is to break through the car sales event clutter and remind people that summer is the best time to get a great deal on a Honda.” The musical choices:

A celebration of America’s love for a diverse array of musical styles and genres, each execution involves a fantasy sequence with a hit song interpreted by a different singing group. The Accord video features sharp, cherry-suited rockers singing a doo-wop version of a top pop song. The Civic video creates a classic 1960s girl group to interpret a hit ballad. For the CR-V and Fit videos, the soul of gospel-singing idols re-imagines an ’80s masterpiece. The Odyssey video features a children’s choir in America’s most popular minivan singing a charming rendition of a well-known rocker tune. And finally, a multi-vehicle video lifts viewers with an angelic boy group clad in white rising above the floor.  

The music choices include “Crazy in Love,” “My Life Would Suck Without You,” “I Was Made for Loving You” and “Head Over Heels.” The campaign is running on TV as well as on digital and social media channels, along with print, radio and dealership pieces.

Honda Summer Clearance

brandchannel talked with Rossick about “Now Is the Moment” and Honda’s music marketing.

bc: Honda has become well-known for leveraging music in your marketing. Do you take that idea more seriously than other auto brands do?

Susie Rossick Honda USSusie Rossick (right): I think so. Each year we look at new concepts. The real goal of any sales event is to break through the clutter because all manufacturers are doing this at the same time. I’m always thinking about it as everyone is watching TV and looking at their phone at the same time, and we want to give people a reason to look up from the phone. If they hear “Crazy In Love” a cappella, hopefully they will look up and that message of “Now Is the Moment — to buy the Honda of your dreams” resonates.

bc: Yet music has become pretty cluttered in automotive advertising, hasn’t it?

Rossick: You’re right—sometimes brands do bad covers of songs and that’s not fun to watch. In this campaign, we targeted each product with a song that we thought was appropriate. So for Civic, “My Life Would Suck Without You” appeals to a bit younger demo, and we knew the a cappella format would really get their attention.

Honda Summer Clearance

bc: How is Honda Music Stage, the big music marketing and sponsorship online platform you launched a couple of years ago, going?

Rossick: Really well. This is our third year. We’re promoting it and getting a lot of views. That was the goal: to drive people to the Honda channel to see the live performances. Especially with millennials and younger consumers, we wanted to make sure we were respectful of when they wanted to watch something. So we’ve been driving a lot of views of performances by both established and up-and-coming artists.

Honda Summer Clearance

bc: There’s also a Hispanic element of “Now Is the Moment” too?

Rossick: Yes, with every promotion we have a Hispanic campaign. The difference with this one is that we have the customer actually singing the song.

We took some Latin genre music that is very popular and customers are shown singing the song to the car. It’s the same idea of falling in love with the car.

Honda Summer Clearance

bc: Have Honda’s objectives for seasonal promotions evolved over time, or is it all just about moving the metal?

Rossick: The one consistent goal for summer or year-end is to break through the clutter. Last year with Happy Honda Days we used a more subtle format to do that; we didn’t just scream “sale, sale, sale!” These are the two times of the year that people are looking for deals, so there’s no reason to scream, “There’s going to be a sale!” It was nice for Happy Honda Days to say that in a friendly way.

Similarly, with this summer’s campaign, we wanted to have fun and have people enjoy watching it. And there’s a social extension, too. We took “Crazy In Love” and filmed it with cats “singing” the song, with the theme, “Meow is the moment.” These are going to run socially beginning on August 8, which—not by accident—is International Cat Day. Who can resist a cat video?

Below, the video campaign for Happy Honda Days 2016:

“Angels” (“You Take My Breath Away”) – 2016 Multi-Vehicle :30

“The Dreamer” 2016 Honda Civic :30

“Dress” (“My Life Would Suck Without You”) 2016 Civic LX Sedan :30

“Float” (“Head Over Heels”) 2016 CR-V LX :30

“Great Thinking Inside” 2016 Honda HR-V :30

“Red” (“Crazy in Love”) – 2016 Accord LX Sedan :30

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