RPA Fires Starting Gun in L.A.

As the presenting sponsor of the Los Angeles Marathon, American Honda Motor Co. recently asked its ad agency, Rubin Postaer and Associates, for a campaign that would capture the essence of the 26.2-mile race.

The Santa Mon ica, Calif., agency responded with a 30-second TV commercial that focuses on the athleticism of the event.

RPA is launching outdoor and print ads this week for the 16th Los Angeles Marathon, and plans to unveil the TV spot a few weeks ahead of the March 4 race. The agency is handling creative and media for the spot, which will appear on local network and cable stations.

“Frankly, I liked the fact that we really paid homage to the runners. I think that’s overlooked a lot,” said Susie Rossick, corporate advertising manager for Honda in Torrance, Calif. “These people are doing it for themselves, not for the money.”

The TV spot, print and outdoor ads were all done in black-and-white to give them a documentary feel, said copywriter Josh Caplan.

The spot features actors, extras and “friends of friends” running in a marathon-like setting. There is no dialogue—just text pointing out the differences between the amateur marathon and typical sporting events. “No luxury seats” and “No signing bonuses” are among the handful of lines that appear. The commercial also includes shots of the metropolitan L.A. landscape.

The closing line is, “L.A. Marathon XVI.”

“The marathon is the last bastion for amateurs,” Caplan said. “This is really the anti-sport. There are no agents, no signing bonuses and no laser light show. This is the everyman.”

Honda, which replaced Mercedes about five years ago as the marathon’s exclusive automotive sponsor, plans to share the work with fellow sponsors such as Sempra Energy and Motrin. Both have borrowed Honda work in the past, Rossick said.

So far, Rossick said, none of the other sponsors plan to launch independent TV commercials.