Mullen Lowe, Acura Put a New Spin on the Crash Test Dummy Spot

By Erik Oster 

Mullen Lowe launched a new ad for Acura, promoting the automaker’s high safety ratings with a twist on your typical crash test dummy spot.

At its core, “The Test” is driven by a pretty standard format: show a crash test, deliver the brand’s high test rating with a message about how important safety is to the company. But the 60-second spot takes things in a slightly different direction. It opens with a technician posing what appear to be incredibly lifelike dummies in the car, later revealed to be real people. The catch is delivered right before the car crashes into a wall, with the delivery of the line “When you don’t think of them as dummies, something amazing happens” a shot showing that the  the vehicle is in fact populated by your typical crash test dummies, we’ve just been seeing things through the technician’s eyes. It makes the delivery of Acura’s five-star crash test rating more memorable and ties the safety message to real life in a way the more typical, clinal executions of the old crash test dummy format don’t. On the other hand, some viewers may find the initial creepiness off-putting enough to tune out what follows.

“Most ads that use crash test dummies are very technical and cold in nature,” Leila Cesario, national advertising manager at Acura, told AdFreak. “We are communicating the seriousness of safety and the trust that people place in their vehicles when they put their families in their cars and send them off to work and school. This is an incredible responsibility that we fully understand and experience ourselves.”

The broadcast spot is supported by a digital campaign element created by Razorfish,, which goes into more detail about Acura’s various safety features.



Spot: Acura “The Test”

Client: American Honda Motor Co.
Jon Ikeda, Vice President and General Manager, Acura
Leila Cesario, Manager, National Advertising, Acura

Agency: Mullen Lowe
Chief Creative Officer: Mark Wenneker
Executive Creative Director: Margaret Keene
Art Director: Paul Foulkes
Writer: Chris Ford
Producer: Dustin Oliver
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Davina Turnbull
Asst. Business Affairs Manager: Nickie Kolb
Music Supervisor: Danica Bates
Director of Art Production: Kate Shoults
Senior Art Producer: Alison Brislin
Managing Director: Cameron McNaughton
Group Account Director: Nicole Neopolitan
Account Director: Courtney Calvert
Senior Account Executive: Kylie Mugg
Product Knowledge Director: Curtis Millward

Production Company: The Corner Shop
Director: Peter Thwaites
Executive Producer: Anna Hashmi
Producer: Jay Shapiro
DP: Joost Van Gelder

Editorial Company: Work
Executive Producer: Marlo Baird
Editor: Bill Smedley
Assistant Editor: Ben Foushée
Producer: Barbara Healy

Postproduction Company: Electric Theatre Collective
Executive Producer: Kate Hitchings
Set Supervisor: Ryan Knowles
Lead Flame Artist: Giles Cheetham
Matte Painting: Dave Gibbons
Colorist: Aubrey Woodiwiss

Sound Company: 740 Sound
Executive Producer: Scott Ganary
Mixer: Stephen Dickson, Larry Winer
Sound Designer: Chris Pinkston, Rob Marshall
Sound Design Producer: Jeff Martin
Associate Producer: Geena Richard

Track: Ex Machina – “Skin”
Composers: Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow
Shane Casting:
Casting Agent: Shane Liem

Digital Banners and Landing Page

Agency: Razorfish
VP, Group Creative Director: Mike Frank
Associate Creative Director: Kate Foley
Art Director: Caitlin Bauler
Senior Copywriter: Anne Butcher
Senior Art Director: Can Kadioglu
Art Director: Chris Kitahara
Senior Copywriter: Newton Stern
Content Strategist: Jonathan Baker
Strategy Director: Evan Zeller
Associate Motion Director: Carlos Barillas
Senior Presentation Layer Developer: Ryan Daly
Senior Presentation Layer Developer: Shamim Toufighian
VP, Technology: Ron Davis
Senior Technical Architect: Udayan Shukla
Senior Functional Analyst: Ahmed BenAssaf
Senior Software Engineer: Pratik Sheth
Senior Presentation Layer Developer: Johnatan Garcia
Senior Presentation Layer Developer: Jose Lombana
Associate QA Manager: David Hua
QA Analyst: Danny Ta
QA Analyst – Luis Garzon
Senior Director Social Media – Jerry Lawrence
Social Media Strategist – Zachary Cheek
VP, Client Partner- Liz Swanson
Account Director – Amy Kelly
Account Supervisor – Erik Troedsson
Program Director – Rosie Rathburn
Senior Project Manager – Ryan Schmidt