Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Honda’s Brand Image Campaign Begins with Failure

Scientists talking about teleportation and magnetic levitation -- is there still room for such lofty brand building campaigns in a depressed automotive market? This is what the New York Times asks about a new marketing push from Honda.

Honda: Dream The Impossible

Honda says it is a campaign “focused on [their] values as a company.” The intro video talks about how it takes failure to get to success. Seems if this worked we wouldn’t need automotive industry bailouts and GM would be the most successful company ever.

Company engineers, designers, and executives share their optimism and enthusiasm for Honda as a company. To keep interest from waning, the film producers also found it best to include some celebrities like Danica Patrick, Christopher Guest and science fiction writer Orson Scott Card., not exactly people that generate a lot of buzz, but still better than an engineer talking.

The whole effort is an attempt to raise brand favorability. What seems odd about this is that Honda is a very successful brand that obviously put this work together in late 2008 before anyone expected a big drop off in industry sales. In fact, Honda was having a pretty successful sales lead when people started dumping SUVs and looking for fuel-efficient cars as an alternative lifting sales of the Civic without any need for brand marketing.

Perhaps this is Honda’s attempt to be positive and show how struggle can lead to positive things, a much better approach than Dunkin Donuts trying to communicate a “Kin Do” attitude.

I really don’t think much about these brand-lifting campaigns (see the Lexus L/Studio blog entry,) especially when they are more about the company talking to itself than its customers and this series by Honda suffers this issue. There is very little about product or expanding my knowledge about Honda’s products. Instead I’m left listening to some pretty boring diatribes on inner self and trying things over and over again, you know the kind of stuff that makes you feel good about buying a Honda lawnmower or $35,000 SUV.

The web site must be at an early stage as it allows users to browse the content. Today that content is three documentary videos: Mobility 2008, Kick Out the Ladder, and Failure: The Secret to Success. You can filter content using 12 content filter types and by most popular (I’m guessing that would be what ever video plays as the intro) and recently updated. That’s it. There is no other content on the site other than Subscribe and Share links in the top navigation.

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