Good-deed advertising is frequently a hard sell, but this is an adorable spot from RPA for Honda, showing the automaker secretly booking very, very indie band Monsters Calling Home on Jimmy Kimmel Live as a thank-you for filming their cool-o music videos entirely inside Hondas.
It's getting harder and harder to do Publishers Clearing House-style "Surprise! You're successful!" videos, although it is a rich tradition dating back to Allen Funt and Candid Camera, and there's a reason it's so effective. It doesn't hurt that the band's neat folk-rock sound is a perfect underscore for the video, or that they seem like nice kids.
Is it me, though, or does this kind of stuff always seem a little mean? Not to jump on Honda—good on them for rigging up such a great deal for these kids, who seem like they probably deserve a break. But does it strike anybody else as awful that the one guy tells them there will be no concert after all for 600 Honda employees—the original ruse—but can they get up on stage and sing one song for the three or four people in the room? Kind of hurts your heart, although I guess for shooting purposes they have to have everyone together on stage to look surprised and happy when they learn the truth.
The most effective part of the nearly five-minute spot, for me, anyway, is the opening, where the band talks about how they ask people at their concerts if maybe somebody could spot them a couch or two for the evening since they're touring for a living and can't afford a hotel. That little section, more so even than the big finale on Kimmel, feels like young people living the contemporary American dream—which is to say, doing the thing you love despite barely making ends meet.
Look at me, I'm getting maudlin. Must be the music.
Agency: RPA, Santa Monica, Calif.
Executive Vice President, Chief Creative Officer: Joe Baratelli
Senior Vice President, Group Creative Director: Jason Sperling
Senior Vice President, Executive Producer: Gary Paticoff
Vice President, Creative Social Media Director: J. Barbush
Art Directors: Brian Farkas, Sarah Hass
Copywriter: Tylynne McCauley
Agency Director, Senior Content Producer: Mark Tripp
Production Company: RPA
Director of Photography: Stephen Carmona
Producer: Andrew Scrivner
Assistant Director: Tracy Chaplin
Editing: Butcher Editorial
Editor: Teddy Gersten
Executive Producer: Rob Van
Smoke Artist: Zac Dych
Color: Adolfo Martinelli, Incendio
Audio Mixer: Paul Hurtubise, Beacon Street Studios