Significant new Honda TV work from Wieden + Kennedy London is typically an anticipated event, and the brand's new "Spark" commercial does not disappoint. The spot, supporting the European launch of the ninth-generation 2012 Civic, is a metaphorical story about how the engineers behind the latest redesign approached the four-year effort.
The beautifully filmed spot—narrated by the longtime voice of Honda Europe, Garrison Keillor—tracks the journey of an idea from the darkness of inception to its dramatic full realization. Filmed in Iceland and Prague, the trip takes the spark across dramatic landscape to capture the trials and tribulations of creation. Toby Allen, the W+K copywriter on the commercial, says it wasn't just about using pyrotechnic magic. He and art director Jim Hilson wanted to give some plucky character to the spark as it navigates through a wind tunnel, around rugged mountains and is nearly drowned in the sea. "It's an abstract visualization of how to look at the birth of an idea, how it grew and overcame obstacles in development, and ultimately about the alchemy that happens when hundreds of ideas come together," says Allen. (You'll also notice references to old W+K ads for Honda, including the famous "Cog.")
While this spot, breaking on TV and online Tuesday, is about the new Civic, the intent is to have a larger halo effect on the brand. W+K creative director Chris Groom cites the role research and development play at Honda, given the company's breadth of manufacturing activities across categories like bikes, lawn mowers, robotics, generators and marine equipment. "Honda takes all that knowledge and they apply it to building a car. It's quite different from more linear car manufacturing—Honda give their engineers a lot of freedom. This is a company that believes half of its business lies in R&D."
Last fall, after the European debut of the 2012 Civic at the Frankfurt Motor Show, W+K created three interactive elements to generate chatter before this TV launch, clickable from the brand's YouTube page: The first, last October, was "Follow Happy," an interactive game that allows the player to track the thought process of Honda engineers. W+K then created "The Experiment Game," an HTML5 game that uses physics principles to challenge players to create a chain reaction by placing a set of pop-up windows in sequence. (Not surprisingly, it has developed an enthusiastic following in the tech community.) The third interactive piece is "Off the Grid," which provides users with a 360-degree video environmental experience, inspired by Google Street View.
Client: Honda Motor Europe
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, London
Creative Team: Toby Allen, Jim Hilson
Creative Directors: Sam Heath, Chris Groom
Agency Producer: Lucy Russell
Post Production: Pamie Wikstrom
Account Director: Paulo Salomao
Director: Martin Krejci
Production Company: Stink
Production Company Producer: Juliet Naylor
Lighting Cameraman: Stepan Kucera
Editor: Filip @ Robota, Prague
Post Production Supervisor: Tom Sparks
Post Production Company: Framestore London
Sound Engineer: Jack Sedgwick
Sound House: Wave London
Music Track: Go Bang
Music Production: Tonic Music Ltd