Honda – Difficult is Worth Doing

As everyone is now aware, Honda successfully ran its 3 minute live advert – the first UK advert to be completely live, rather than broadcast as live (EDIT: In recent years) – during Come Dine With Me on Channel 4 last Thursday

I have mixed feelings over this campaign.

Successes of the ad:

  • It continued Honda’s strong tradition of technically difficult adverts. Continuity is always good
  • It was executed near flawlessly. Check out the comments here for the full technical breakdown
  • An event was successfully created around an advertising campaign. With multimedia fragmentation and time-shifted viewing, TV’s main draw is that ability to create those must-see moments that are instantly digested and talked over. Few advertisers are able to translate this watercooler effect from programming to advertising. Honda succeeded
  • The amount of PR generated is quite astonishing
  • As well as being an event, it has achieved a viral effect. 60,000 plays in a day and a half on YouTube isn’t record-breaking, but it certainly isn’t bad going

Doubts over the ad:

  • While it is a technical achievement, the ad contrasts with the previous campaigns in that their post-production values were extremely high. Even with all of the skills necessary to shoot the live ad, the shaky cam can’t help but look amateurish at times
  • It is a one-off (and if it isn’t, it should be). Cutting it into a 10 second, 30 second or 60 second spot won’t have nearly the same impact, and I believe it will diminish the overall effect. Press ads using stills of the jump may work, but I’m not totally convinced
  • This also means that the frequency of seeing the ad will be, for most, once at best. While engagement with the Honda ad will undoubtedly be greater than other ads, many believe that people need to be exposed to adverts at least four times for them to have an impact
  • While it generated a huge amount of PR, £500,000 on one spot is still a lot of money. While other ads may cost more, production costs are split over more spots, with their coverage and reach will be far higher
  • The above doubts can be condensed into questioning the longevity of the ad. If it is a one-shot, how long will people remember it for? Cars aren’t a spur of the moment purchase. If the ad were for an FMCG brand, we would probably see an immediate sales uplift. But how many people will remember the ad when they come to buy a car in the coming months or years?

So, overall I am conflicted. I think the ad is a great achievement -and kudos to Wieden+Kennedy for yet another fantastic execution – but I’m not convinced it will work as a long-term campaign and keeping it as a one-off will reduce the sales uplift that it could achieve. Though as people (myself included) are still talking about the Cog advert even now, who knows how long the actual impact will last for…

sk

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