Honda is the latest marketer to let kids help write its commercials. And the strategy is, as usual, a solid one.
A pair of minute-long videos from RPA introduce "Storytime with Accord," a campaign based on the imaginings of children. The automaker and its agency prompted kids to draw pictures, describe their drawings, sit in the driver's seat of the car and then riff on the combined themes.
One of the resulting stories, from a 4-year-old named Ethan, features a pair of dinosaur pals—who eat pizza, naturally—in a Honda rocket on a road trip to Mars, where they do battle with a dragon to save a princess.
The other, from a 6-year-old named Kingsley, features a dolphin and a woman in a Honda submarine on an underwater treasure hunt—dodging a great white shark thanks to the car's force field (aka, headlights).
Overall, it's a familiar strategy. Back in 2012, Sony, McCann and Wes Anderson built a gorgeous animation about the inner workings of a smartphone based on an interview with an 8-year-old. AT&T and BBDO relied on the ad-libbed genius of a roundtable of kids to churn out some of 2013's best ads. Last summer, S7 Airlines and Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam picked up a Silver Lion at Cannes for deftly turning kids' fantastical travel destinations into metaphors for actual places.
Honda and RPA's tack is fresh, insofar as they created their commercials in the style of elementary school plays, and it does fit with the marketer's "Power of Dreams" positioning, which includes one recent ad explicitly themed around child's play, and another that might as well be.
The new clips, for their part, also succeed at capturing the sort of irresistible free-wheeling randomness that's beyond the reach of adults who've been ground down into jaded versions of themselves by forces like reality—it's the kind of innocent, unencumbered charm that lies at the heart of kid-conceived storytelling.
Honda's results, with classic (or maybe even regressive) fairy-tale tropes like a pink-clad damsel in distress, feel a touch middle-of-the-road, even for an approach that's intrinsically lowbrow (to hate a kid's imagination would be like hating puppies and rainbows—perhaps valid, but not a popular position).
While purportedly unscripted, they also feel somewhat forced when compared to others in the genre, with no shortage of product shots and features woven, however slickly, into the playful scenes.
Still, they include enough in the way of little gems to hang together and be rewarding. It's a nice surprise, for example, that in Kingsley's mind, the hidden loot includes cake (all treasure chests should, if they haven't been sitting at the bottom of the ocean too long).
At some point, ad creatives should probably start doing their jobs, though, instead of leaving the heavy lifting to people under age 10. It's feeling more and more like a gimmick that should be put down for nap time.
EVP, Chief Creative Officer: Joe Baratelli
SVP, Executive Creative Director: Jason Sperling
VP, Creative Director: Social Media: J Barbush
Sr. Art Director: Evan Boswell
Copywriter: David Bassine
Jr. Art Director: Enrique Alvarado
SVP, Chief Production Officer: Gary Paticoff
VP, Executive Producer: Isadora Chesler
VP, Director of Digital Production: Dave Brezinski
Executive Digital Producer: Linda Kim
Sr. Digital Producer: Annie Hough
VP, Associate Director, Digital Marketing: Aaron Dodez
Supervisor, Digital Content Strategy: Mike Dossett
Sr. Specialist, Digital Content Strategy: Tyler Sweeney
Coordinator, Digital Content Strategy: Amanda Womack
EVP, Management Account Director: Brett Bender
VP, Group Account Director: Adam Blankenship
Account Supervisor: Renee Egizi-Finger
Account Executive: Kaelin McGill
Production Company: Bö's House of Visual Arts
VP, Director, Content Production: Mark Tripp
Director of Photography: Simon Thirlaway
Producer: Sparky Pomeroy
Art Director: Mark Behn
Post Producer: Eddie Granado
Editor: Alex Jones
Editor: A'sia Horne
Score & Sound Design: Adam Deibert
Visual Effects: Eddie Granado
Record & Premix: Margarita Mix
Mix: Paul Hurtubise
GM: Michele Millard
Final Mix: Lime
Mixer: Dave Wagg
Assistant Mixer: Adam Primack
Color Correction: The Mill
Colorist: Adam Scott
Executive Producer: Thatcher Peterson