Honda’s New SUV Takes the Road Via Rubin Postaer

LOS ANGELES — American Honda Motor Co. this week launches its new SUV, the 2003 Pilot, with an estimated $30 million campaign from Rubin Postaer and Associates.

The Pilot, a bigger, more muscular version of its predecessor, the Passport, is “one of the most significant launches for Honda” in recent years, said Eric Conn, client assistant vp of national automobile advertising. With the new SUV, Honda hopes to make its mark against competition that includes the Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango and Toyota Highlander. Two 30-second spots that break today highlight Pilot features such as three rows of seats, a 240-horsepower V-6 engine and four-wheel drive.

One spot, “Soiling It,” has the Pilot parked in the desert with an empty motorcycle trailer attached. As the leather seats and navigation system are shown, a father and his sons ride in on Honda motorcycles. The filthy trio enters the SUV, and a voiceover says that the Pilot is “very refined.” The second spot shows a dogsled team pushing across the frozen tundra. A Pilot approaches and flashes its high beams at the team, before passing them on the left. A voiceover announces, “Slower traffic, please keep to the right.”

“We’re playing up its towing ability and things that, in the past, Honda was not known for,” said Larry Postaer, evp and director of creative services at the Santa Monica, Calif., agency. The effort includes four teaser spots and outdoor. Two more spots and print will break in the fall. Honda has set a sales goal of 80,000 units in the Pilot’s first year. In North America last year, the Explorer sold more than 400,000 units, the Durango sold over 130,000 and the Highlander notched sales of just under 87,000.