Honda Launches Civic Tour With Fave MySpace Band Fall Out Boy

Honda has launched the latest iteration of its Civic Tour, a Honda-sponsored arena concert series, now in its seventh year. The tour puts Honda's Civic car central to promotional activity in which Civics customized by band members are dangled as promotional prizes.

News, tour dates and band information as well as the bands' own Web sites are housed at civictour.com, which changes every year to reflect the sponsored bands.

This year, the company is focusing on its Hybrid Civic, and a beefed-up web site allowing for user-generated content around this year's Civic Tour band, Fall Out Boy. It also includes a relationship with social-networking site friendsorenemies.com, where fans interact with band members and with which Fall Out Boy is involved.

The effort, comprising video content delivered to both civictour.honda.com and friendsorenemies.com, includes documentary video clips of the band and videotaped responses from band members on the Civic Tour site, to questions posted by fans.

It also offers a "Long Song Title Game," which asks users to write long song titles similar to the band's own modus.

Honda's site links to friendsorenemies.com, which the band is using to post photos of the tour taken from band members' own camera phones. They are also using the site to post journal entries and blogs.

The tour launched last Friday in Denver. Also on the bill are +44 , The Academy Is..., Paul Wall and Cobra Starship.

The band-modified car this year is a Hybrid Civic, which is showcased on the Honda Civic Tour Web site and will be displayed at each concert venue. Throughout the tour, fans will have the opportunity to enter a drawing to win the band-autographed car.

The interactive effort was developed by L.A.-based RPA, Honda's agency of record, and is being produced by Buzznet, which runs friendsorenemies.

Fern Shlauter, RPA's interactive management supervisor, says that although Honda promotes Civic Tour in traditional media, the Web site is intended to drive interest.

"I think that we have always wanted the Civic Tour site to be very interactive," she says. "In the past, for instance, you could vote for bands and submit feedback, but this is a really big departure in terms of user-generated content." This is the first time Honda's tour site has linked with other social networking sites.

Honda doesn't market its cars on the site. The only vehicle shown is the one customized by the band and promoted as the ultimate prize in a Honda Tour sweepstakes. "We try not to be heavy handed with product promotions on the site. We want people to have a fun, engaging experience. It's more of a life-style play."

She says Fall Out Boy appealed to Honda partly because they had a huge fan base ... online. "MySpace is a measure of popularity that people study. And they are the number-one most popular band on MySpace, with one million friends, so they have a strong fan community. They also have compelling radio play numbers, and they are the kind of up-and-coming band we like to work with."

Honda and friendsorenemies are also running a promo in which consumers can upload videos of fans lip-synching the band's songs. Shlauter wouldn't mention site traffic numbers, but says: "We have had significant increases over the previous year and are getting strong traffic."