Acura: A ‘New Generation’ Arrives

LOS ANGELES Repositioning Acura’s TSX luxury model to a younger buyer, RPA’s campaign uses hip-hop music, Joe Pytka-directed commercials featuring young singles going out to clubs and introduces “A new generation has arrived” as the tagline.

“It is being repositioned to both a younger [media] audience and to a younger buyer, when you think about what Acura had done with the technology and styling,” said Pat Mendelson, svp, creative director, independent RPA, Santa Monica, Calif., who wrote the copy teamed with art director Mark Erwin in what will be their last collaboration on the brand.

Mendelson said that the agency’s research showed the young buyer is in his early 30s, is more likely to be entrepreneurial, comfortable with technology such as iVTech engines, and “confident that they will make it and do something amazing in the world.”

Actor James Spader’s voiceover intermixes urban poetry with product features. “Sometimes luxury needs to howl at the moon, find a rare grass-fed steak in a red-leather booth and invite all its friends,” he says in the 60-second “Howl,” as singles pour out of their cars and into clubs and upscale eateries. A man and woman who’d caught each other’s eye at dinner end up flirting on the dance floor.

“IVTech luxury,” which will also be shown in 15-, 30- and 60-second executions, mixes Citizen Cope hip-hop and the morning after at an Los Angeles-area beach with flashbacks of a club-scene hookup from the night before. “This isn’t the soft kind of luxury. This is start a business, sell it and start another one,” goes the narration. “This is advanced digital iVTech luxury. It can find you an uncrowded highway or a crowded club.”

Print and outdoor echoes the broadcast thematically with both art and copy: “Old luxury has a glass of warm milk and turns in early,” reads one spread. “Modern luxury goes out all night and still makes it into the office by eight.”

Nontraditional efforts include product integration of the TSX and RL into a TNT crime-thriller microseries that will premiere in the late summer simultaneously on TNT and TNT.tv online.

Mendelson said that the lush, sexy, narrative of the work, which he acknowledged is reminiscent of DDB’s 1986 “The night belongs to Michelob” ads, moves away from straightforward luxe-feature boasting. “I don’t think it overdoes the romance and the fantasy, because there is a kind of realism and emotion in Pytka’s texture,” he said. “And while the campaign doesn’t present a manifesto, [it] looks at the change in luxury that’s going on, too.”

Erwin and Mendelson, who partnered on Acura for the last three years, have been reassigned to other brands within the agency. Mendelson said he had mixed emotions about moving back to Honda, but added that he was “very happy about how our last campaign turned out.”

Acura spent $230 million on measured media in 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Sales of Acura, a unit of American Honda Motors, Torrance, Calif., are down 14 percent to 38,000 units through March, per Car Concepts, Thousand Oaks, Calif. The TSX model is down 23 percent.