Honda Puts New Marketing Behind Civic

Honda yesterday broke an integrated TV, print and Internet effort with an Election Day-themed TV spot.

The new ads, via RPA, Santa Monica--Honda and Acura's long-time ad agency--show the Civic and Civic Si in creative "mashups" of animation, computer graphics, and real people and places.

The election-themed spot--one of two--has a guy waking up to an alarm clock that changes shapes and styles as it rings. The guy gets up, and opening his door, sees an array of Civics parked outside. He then transforms into an array of different people, each of which gets into a Civic.

Then, he and his doppelgangers begin a trip to Washington, DC, and ultimately to a phalanx of voting booths near the Capitol. In the booths the voters end up choosing Civic, represented in the ads as a palindrome wherein the final "C" reverses, and a voice-over from actor Kevin Spacey closes out: "Freedom is choice. The Honda Civic. Reverse your thinking."

Another ad, launching this week for Honda's Civic Si sedan, a factory-tuned version of the car, borrows heavily from the cult Disney movie Tron, created in CGI animation. In the ad, an animated version of the car zooms along computer-board matrices as digital people put virtual obstacles in its path. Tag: "freedom is power."



The new ads will air on spot TV and cable networks including MTV, Fox and Comedy Central and national sports, including NFL and NBA. Print ads will appear in a variety of magazines, including Car and Driver, ESPN the Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Maxim and Rolling Stone.

Honda is also launching a parallel interactive campaign for Civic and Civic Si. Civic will be included in a Honda Element-themed promotion on MySpace's "Ultimate Music Profile Contest," and the car will be integrated in online game-maker Wild Tangent's racing game, Final Drive Nitro.

Finally, Honda is promoting Civic through an involvement with's "Coolest Cars in Entertainment."

Lauren Mehl, interactive associate media director at RPA, said the agency has worked with Wild Tangent since last year to promote Si. "We found that people who played the game spent an average of 30 minutes with it," adding that the involvement, for Honda, serves more as an awareness builder than as a means of driving showroom traffic. "We know the male target demographic are spending a lot of time with online games."

Since the target for Honda's Element crossover was mostly male, she said, there was a big online gaming push, including integration with games like "Monster Park Madness," a mountain bike game, on WildTangent's site.

RPA has handled Honda sponsorships and advertising on MySpace for more than a year, both for Element and the long-running Civic Tour franchise. This 5-year-old rock and pop music-arena series involves local-market activity, and this year headlines "The Blackeyed Peas."

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