It seems as though every year, as summer draws to a close, we hear about one more drive-in movie theatre that’s gone out of business or had to shut down due to the cost of converting to digital projection. It just seems that, for this one cherished piece of the American experience, the required conversion to digital is potentially more likely to bury the business model rather than bring it into the future.
Enter Project Drive-In, a movement created and Kickstarted by American Honda to help rescue as many drive-ins as possible by funding their conversion to digital
By raising awareness of the critical financial needs of select drive-ins through a website and social media activities, American Honda encouraged people in local areas to vote for their favorite drive-ins online and via mobile. After raising enough votes and funds to save nine drive-ins this year, American Honda recruited local area television news teams to reveal the “winning news” by covering the winning "owners describing the challenges of funding the conversion to digital projection," a digital OS and projector upgrade that runs anywhere from $75-$100,000 per drive-in. These owners then discovered their chance at rebirth, thanks to American Honda.
In the words of Don Draper’s now-famous speech pitching the Eastman-Kodak company’s Carrousel® projection system, “Teddy told me that in Greek the word ‘nostalgia’ literally means the pain from an open wound.” In American Honda’s case, this potency of nostalgia is exactly the kind of powerful heartstring being pulled here, providing such a huge measure of currency for the Honda brand in coming to the aid of this iconic American pastime.
How many more cars will this campaign sell? What’s the ROI on a corporate sustainability initiative designed to save drive-ins? Unfortunately, we live in an age where questions like that will likely be asked by plenty of industry measurbators. But as for the goodwill this campaign is shining upon Brand American Honda from plenty of American families, it’s likely to prove very powerful stuff.