Honda Pulls Open Garage Doors In Massive All-Points Push

In the auto business there's the occasional campaign--the national launch of a mid-sized sedan--that company PR staff must surely dread, because the scope of the campaign (driven by the breadth of the market) forces them to create more of a novella than a press release.

If so, Honda's PR staff must wish they had taken medical leave this week, as the company pulls out the stops on the launch effort for the Honda Accord, the second-best-selling vehicle in the U.S.

Honda, which typically loads up on new product launches--and their associated advertising--in the fourth quarter, is opening the garage doors on a massive all-points push, "Beyond the Road," that aims for 29- to-41-year-old Gen X buyers with the message that for extending one's lifestyle onto the road, the car is the medium.

The new campaign also gives that 70s mega-group, Electric Light Orchestra, at least its second paycheck from a car company in four years. VW used the band's "Mr. Blue Sky" to promote the Beetle Convertible in 2003.



Honda's Accord juggernaut includes new ads--three 30-second ads and three 15s--that feature the group's "Hold on Tight." Actor Kevin Spacey reprises his role as the voice of Honda in the ads, which broke on Monday night on ESPN coverage of "Monday Night Football" and will run on "Grey's Anatomy" and "NCIS."

One ad shows the cars passing urban wallscapes on which slices of life are revealed in ghostly dream sequences. Another, touting Honda as the greenest car company in America, shows ghostly images of tropical fish swimming on a reef, projected on tunnel walls as the car drives through it. Spacey says in voiceover: "Maybe making the perfect car isn't about the road. But rather everything beyond it." Another ad touts the car's power.

Long-form ads called "minisodes" will grace new shows like "Bionic Woman," "Chuck," "Journeyman," "Life" and "My Name Is Earl." The effort, via RPA, Santa Monica, Calif., is also Honda's largest interactive push, with takeovers, online road blocks and sponsorships and co-branded microsites.

Print ads will break in October monthlies with newspaper wraps scheduled for Sunday in Accord's top markets. Magazines include mass-reach titles like Business Week, Entertainment Weekly, GQ, In Style, Real Simple and Vanity Fair.

Honda also has a net for people with DVR machines who send ads to purgatory. The company is running a program with TiVo, in which the 15-second Accord pre-rolls will run before ABC's "Fall First Look" promotional footage on the TiVo showcase.

The online roadblock launching this week includes first-evers: Honda will put Accord ads on Yahoo, MSN and AOL. On AOL, Accord will be the first-ever auto advertiser to run a one-hour network takeover, according to Honda. On MSN, Accord will be featured on first-ever rich media roadblocks across high-profile front pages.

The campaign includes a massive promotional effort extending into entertainment, sports, MTV, retail and Accord as sponsor vehicle of Entertainment Weekly's Entertainer of the Year issue, with in-book print featuring a gatefold in the Nov. 30 issue. Online includes exclusive sponsorship of the first-ever Reader's Choice Entertainer of the Year game, two home page roadblocks and six-week sponsorship of "The Five" video series with :15 pre-roll.

In Sports Illustrated Honda sponsors the "SI Vault" preview of 52 years of classic stories and photography.

Honda is boosting Accord through sponsorship of MTV's Drive-In Theater Video Hub, a custom co-branded environment leveraging content from MTV Network sites, including vintage video, movies and music popular among Gen-Xers.

The interactive component of the campaign also involves Honda-branded content from CBS streamed on Joost, AOL and MSN. And NBC online will include fall-preview minisodes, also sponsored by Accord. And more of the same kind of online sponsored content on sites like Citysearch, CNET, ESPN, Internet Movie Database, Time, YouTube, USA Today and Wired.

The Accord campaign also includes in-cinema ads, outdoor boards, ads on XM Satellite Radio, in airports, and outdoor wallscapes and subway tunnels in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

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