Ad of the Day: Honda’s ‘Dreamer’ Is an Acid-Level Romp Inside an Auto Designer’s Mind

RPA imagines the fruit of elaborate dreamscapes

A Honda designer blows his own mind in this visually rich ad for the 2016 Civic.

As our hero brainstorms some concepts, the vehicle suddenly bursts through the back of his head, exiting via thick bank-vault doors, with rays of light signifying the power of inspiration.

This dude's the ultimate gear-head! 

An amazing journey follows. With Empire of the Sun's techno-bouncy "Walking on a Dream" as the soundtrack, the car speeds along dazzlingly realized computer-generated landscapes. Sun-splashed waterfalls and rainbow slides spring up in and around the designer's workspace.

Just like your drive to the office every single day, right? So, why did the agency take such an unusual creative approach?

"The spot is a fantastical, surreal representation of the Honda ideation process," RPA executive creative director Jason Sperling tells Adweek. "We wanted to showcase the Civic's beautiful design and performance, but do it through the prism of the brand. The spot is a great marriage of the way Honda thinks and the byproduct of their thinking." 

After the client approved the concept and the work began, "we all had to use our imaginations—for a very long time," Sperling says. "For months, all we had to go on was reference material and wireframes. As you might expect, the postproduction process was incredibly intensive on this project. Our amazing partner Roof had to create a world from scratch, all in CGI."

Ultimately, the minute-long spot took five months to finish. On the one hand, it's an impressive animated treat, a novel approach for the category from a nameplate that's become known for taking less-traveled marketing roads. (Its recent three-tiered interactive spot from RPA, focused on increasingly extravagant dates, is also a nod in that direction.)

That said, "The Dreamer" might be a tad busy for its own good. The ad offers an awful lot to process on one or even multiple viewings, and paying attention to the fast-shifting details is kind of a headache (an affliction the print ad below inadvertently illustrates all too well). 

CREDITS
Client: American Honda Motor Co.

Agency: RPA

EVP, CCO: Joe Baratelli
SVP, ECD: Jason Sperling
Creative Director/Art: Rahul Panchal
ACD/Art: Marcella Coad
ACD/Copy: Paul Fung
SVP, Chief Production Officer: Gary Paticoff
VP, Executive Producer: Isadora Chesler
Sr. Producer: Eva Ellis
Producer: Ryan Radley
VP, Director of Business Affairs: Maria Del Homme

EVP, Management Account Director: Brett Bender
VP, Group Account Director: Adam Blankenship
Management Supervisor: Rose McRitchie
Account Supervisor: Patty Mira
Account Supervisor: Eliza Wan
Account Executive: Donny Menjivar
Account Executive: Chloe Seitz

Sr. VP, Group Strategic Planning Director: Christian Cocker
Associate Director, Strategic Planning: Nargis Pirani
Associate Strategic Planning Director: Rich Bina
Sr. Strategic Planner: Elissa Murch

Production Company: Roof Studio
Directors: Guto Terni, Sam Mason and Vinicius Costa
Executive Producer: Crystal Campbell

Producer: Ryan Mack

Director of Photography: Bill Pope
Technical Lead Director: Aaron Baker

Design: Fred Palacio, Eric Pautz, Guto Terni, Vinicius Costa and Sam Mason
Color Correction: Seth Ricart, RCO

Additional Color Correction: Tim Masik, CO3

Music:
Track: "Walking on a Dream"

Artist: Empire of the Sun

Music Supervision: Squeak E. Clean Productions, Inc.

Sound Design: Squeak E. Clean Productions, Inc.
Mix: Lime Studios

Engineer: Dave Wagg
Producer: Susie Boyajan

—Print
Agency: RPA
EVP, CCO: Joe Baratelli
SVP, ECD: Jason Sperling
ACD: Marcella Coad
ACD: Paul Fung
Photographer: Jen Campbell
Digital Artist: ROOF Studios
Art Buyer: Kay Gautraud
Production Manager: Renato Quilalang