Honda Starts Ad Engines As Racing Season Gets Underway

Honda has begun a national integrated ad push that targets racing enthusiasts as well as the general market and coincides with the start of the Indy Racing League (IRL) season in Miami last weekend. The campaign, to promote Honda's tamer consumer vehicles, exploits Honda's status--for the second year running--as sole engine supplier for the IndyCar series.

The effort, via long-time agency of record RPA, Santa Monica, Calif., features a 30-second TV spot, "Starting Up." It shows Honda race cars, motorcycles, and even boat engines as well as Honda consumer vehicles of all stripes gearing up for ignition, with the click of lights going on, magnetos activated, all leading up to the moment of ignition. Tag: "The Power of Dreams."

The ad broke on ESPN SportsCenter's broadcast of the Homestead-Miami Speedway Indy race on Saturday, and a heavier presence is planned for the Indianapolis 500 period in May, per the agency. The spot will run on broadcasts of all 17 IRL races and on cable.



The effort includes print ads thematically mirroring the TV spot that will appear in auto- and racing-enthusiast publications. The print ad will run in USA Today prior to races to urge consumers to tune in.

Interactive elements launch in May on ESPN and Speed Channel Web sites and focus on the Indy 500 warm-up and race period. Online creative includes 15-second versions of the TV spot. In addition, search and site targeting will be used to maximize Honda's presence on Honda/IRL sites to help drive traffic to

Jim Real, associate creative director at RPA, says the message is that what Honda does on the track translates into the showroom. He says that, although it's not a new strategy for Honda, the company typically offers the pitch solely to race enthusiasts, but this time it's aimed more broadly to include the general market as well, with the ad running on cable and print ads.

"The thought is that viewers will see that Honda's passion and enthusiasm about engines carries through on everything Honda does," says Real, who adds that the ads seek to avoid clichés around racing footage while building a sense of excitement. "You see and hear engines starting up, but you never actually see anything drive."

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