Community’s Ironic Storyline About a Honda CR-V Lifted Brand Recall to 95%

And half of viewers were more likely to buy one

The sixth season of Community wrapped its debut season on Yahoo Screen last month and—true to form for most streaming sites—we still don't know how many people actually watched the Greendale gang.

However, Yahoo did provide data on a Honda campaign that ran alongside the cult comedy, and said the automaker was pleased. "In a nutshell … I think they were thrilled with the results, both around brand favorability and brand recall," said Lisa Utzschneider, chief revenue officer at Yahoo. 

Honda signed on in February as a "presenting sponsor" in a 12-month deal that included pre-roll video ads and integrations. The most notable appeared during Episode 7, "Advanced Safety Features," which included a plot that centered on the Honda CR-V. (In a meta moment, Dean Pelton falls for Honda's guerrilla marketing campaign).

The episode also featured a customized Twitter hashtag, #Level7Susceptible, which helped the episode bring in over 29 million Twitter impressions in its first week, more than any episode except for the season finale. Yahoo cited third-party research indicating 50 percent of viewers were more likely to buy a Honda after watching the episode, and viewers had 95 percent brand recall for the CR-V (and 88 percent for the Honda Fit).

"We were very aligned on what Honda was trying to accomplish," said Utzschneider.

Yahoo also cited a new third-party biometric study, which analyzed emotional and cognitive resonance, to see how millennials responded to that episode. The study found that viewers were more "emotionally engaged" with the branded content compared to the overall episode, and that there was a 61 percent lift in purchase intent.

While Utzchneider would not divulge specifics, she said the Honda-Community partnership could become a model.

"We are looking at different scenarios that would give marketers the chance both to integrate and sponsor a show, like Honda did with Community, but also the chance to expand beyond just that show and give marketers the opportunity to buy a channel and also buy an audience."

One audience statistic Yahoo did provide: More than half of Community's viewers were new to Yahoo, and they engaged with more content throughout Yahoo's network than its average new user. Tom Peyton, assistant vp of marketing, American Honda, previously told Adweek the brand has "a general understanding" of how many viewers have been watching Community.

Yahoo would not comment on any plans for another season.