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Rubin Postaer Has Honda on the Run

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LOS ANGELES Putting a local spin on an annual race, American Honda Motor Co. has launched a campaign touting its sponsorship of the upcoming Los Angeles Marathon.

The campaign, which was created by Honda agency Rubin Postaer and Associates in Santa Monica, Calif., includes TV, print and outdoor ads. Spending was undisclosed.

Sixty- and 30-second TV spots show people from all walks of life trying to convince an unseen panel of talent scouts that they are believable as runners. The casting agents ask them to fake a leg cramp, stretch, wave hello to friends, and do a victory dance as they cross the finish line.

Another 30-second execution stars Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis, who is also auditioning. A male voice is heard saying, "This isn't really working. Maybe it's me. I just don't buy him as a runner."

Spots end with a voiceover, "Only in L.A. The Los Angeles Marathon. Presented by Honda." The tagline: "Run to your local dealer."

"This gives a unique Los Angeles spin to the whole idea," said Larry Postaer, executive vice president and director of creative services at RPA. "Our guys started out thinking about what makes L.A. different from Boston or New York. There's a lot of truth to it—a lot of the showbiz crowd runs in that race."

To create the spots, the agency held an open casting call. Lewis' appearance was a surprise, said Postaer. "He came to the audition and shocked us all," said Postaer. Following Lewis' tryout, RPA changed its plans to create just one ad and decided to make a spot featuring the former track star.

While 423 people auditioned, 20 were selected to repeat their actions on film. Other surprise hopefuls included Roland Kickinger, who plays "Chip" on Son of the Beach and was also Mr. Universe, 1995, and actress Morgan Brittany, who was Katherine Wentworth on Dallas.

This campaign is a departure from previous efforts, which were serious in tone and shot in a documentary style, said Postaer.

Honda has been a marathon sponsor since 1996. "After seven years, we wanted to give it a fresh look and gain more attention for it," said Susie Rossick, client manager of corporate advertising.

The spots break on Monday and will air locally during programs such as Law & Order, West Wing and Letterman up until the marathon on March 2.

Print and outdoor ads use a superhero theme and feature cartoon drawings, along with lines such as "Holy endorphin rush!"