RPA Touts Power, Features of Honda’s New SUV

American Honda Motor Co. this week launches the 2003 Pilot with a $30 million campaign from Rubin Pos taer 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 motorcyles. The filthy trio enters the SUV, and a voiceover says the Pilot is “very refined.”

The second ad shows a dogsled pushing across the frozen tundra. An approaching Pilot flashes its high beams at the team before passing them on the left. A voice over says, “Slower traf fic … keep to the right.”

“We’re playing up things that, in the past, Honda was not known for,” said Larry Pos taer, 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 for Pilot’s first year. In North America last year, Explorer sold more than 400,000 units, Durango sold more than 130,000 and Highlander notched sales of 87,000.