Honda focuses on EVs and aircraft in newest corporate campaign

Marketing

Honda Motor Co. is plugging its range of products — from motorcycles to jets — in a major new campaign that points to its future, including investments in electric vehicles and a longer-term vision for reusable space rockets and avatar robots.

A new “Forever Determined” ad, which comes from agency-of-record RPA, is the second spot in Honda’s “Origin of Determination” campaign that debuted in October.

While the campaign’s first ad focused on the brand’s legacy, the new spot is geared toward showing how the company is “embarking on new initiatives,” and to “highlight and tease future products,” said Senior Manager for Honda Marketing Jessika Laudermilk. Along with reaching its existing consumer base, Honda is targeting Gen Z and millennials “who may not be as familiar with Honda’s past,” she said.

The ad was filmed from the perspective of drivers of various Honda vehicles, including the brand’s Type A motorized bicycle, the aircraft HondaJet Elite S, as well as forthcoming technology such as the eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft. It even hints at Honda’s space ambitions, with the final scene showing a camera shot up towards space. The spot is narrated by brand representative and actor John Cena. 

The corporate messaging comes as Honda and other automakers deal with supply shortages that in some cases have lessened the need for marketing pushing new vehicles, given that demand has exceeded supply.

While Honda launched a product-focused campaign for its HR-V compact crossover in June, “from a marketing perspective, we’re really focusing on upper funnel and branding as we know there is way more demand than we have to sell at the moment,” said Laudermilk. 

The auto industry’s supply chain issues, which include semiconductor shortages, are expected to last until 2024, according to Automotive News. This has led to “pent-up demand,” according to consulting firm AlixPartners, as quoted by Automotive News.

Production woes contributed to a worldwide vehicle sales drop for Honda of 18.3% in the quarter ending June 30.

The campaign’s media buy includes NHL, NFL and NCAA programming. The plan includes buys on Hulu, Roku, Twitch, Amazon, Spotify, Vevo, ESPN/ESPN Deportes, TikTok, Reddit, Snapchat and Canela Media, which caters to U.S. Latinx audiences. Honda will also bring the campaign to Twitch by creating a world containing elements of the campaign, although the details are still unconfirmed. Honda has maintained a presence on Twitch, including aiming to reach non-gamers by creating a lifestyle channel in March. 

In terms of spending, the spot “is on par with what Honda has traditionally spent on a model launch campaign and (what it spent) with ‘Origin of Determination,’” said Laudermilk. “This is probably the most important campaign we have (this year),” she said when asked about how the campaign is being prioritized.

The campaign will run until mid-November.

Honda has maintained an aircraft business and last September announced its intention to develop reusable rockets to launch satellites in space along with air mobility vehicles and avatar robots, according to Automotive News. Honda competitors such as Hyundai are also exploring the aircraft space.

In addition to its aircraft and space tech goals, Honda plans to roll out 30 EVs globally by 2030 and produce 2 million of the vehicles annually, it announced in April. Laudermilk confirmed that these plans are on track.

On Monday, Honda and South Korean battery maker LG Energy Solution announced plans to invest $4.4 billion to build lithium ion batteries in the U.S. for Honda and Acura brand electric vehicles.

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