The campaign in question is for Honda in the U.K. and was executed by a tightly knit, multifunctional collective affectionately known as "The Dream Factory." Set up in 2002 to run Honda's U.K. business, this group was designed to be truly collaborative, with no room for turf wars, and driven by the task at hand, not the message or medium -- a lesson for us all. The team, led by Wieden + Kennedy London, includes Naked, Midas, Starcom, and Hicklin Slade, which all deserve credit for the consistency, integration, and sheer brilliance across all of Honda's brand communications.
The prizes for Honda's "Hate Something, Change Something" include the Titanium Grand Prix for best integrated campaign at the Cannes festival this year, and top awards at the TV Grand Clio, D&AD (Design and Art Directors) Black Pencil, and the One Show Best of Show, plus numerous media and effectiveness awards. More importantly, it won the universal envy of peers who thought, Why the hell can't we do that? It all started with the notion that the first point of contact in the automotive buying process is no longer dealerships or TV advertising; it's the Internet. So at the heart of the approach was a fresh look at Web sites presented in accessible and engaging ways, such as Honda.co.uk/change. The sites served as the pivot point for all the conversations about Honda. Go to the change site: The "Grrr" spot is profoundly beautiful and utterly infectious.
"Cog" (which actually appeared in 2004, www.honda.co.uk/cog), was a 120-second communication featuring 85 car parts in a complex chain reaction. The time length was justified by the communications/media planners, an unusual move -- normally they're the ones asking for shorter running times!
The brilliant "Hate Something, Change Something" 120-second spot was likewise too extravagant for conventional broadcast distribution. Instead it reached the audience via magazines, including more than 1 million pop CDs for families to sing along to in the car, and cover-mounted as a DVD and distributed with major newspapers, men's magazines, and car magazines. Included in the DVD was not only the ad but the story behind the ad, and an interactive explanation of the car model itself. This was such a huge success that more than half a million extra requests came in for it. (A big number by U.S. standards, but almost unbelievable for the U.K.)
The campaign had such influence that it truly became part of popular culture and resulted in sales increases in the U.K. of 28 percent. As Honda's brand "Book of Dreams," created as an internal handbook but ultimately sent to all Honda owners, puts it: "Try to do something every day that scares you." Try it. It works.
Paul Woolmington is a founding partner of Naked Communications New York.