Acura Offers Bullet Proof

LOS ANGELES The Acura division of American Honda Motors has launched its most ambitious and wide-ranging effort of the year, according to Susie Rossick, manager of national advertising.

The integrated campaign includes three commercials for the relaunched Acura TL sedan through independent RPA, Santa Monica, Calif., and its yet unnamed unit led by new svp, cd John Hage.

“We’re defining power [in the spots] through strength, precision and grace,” said Rossick. “We were able to take the theme and carry it through the creative online and on TV, with print looking a little different and stressing brilliance and control.”

Three new spots began rolling out over the weekend, all directed by MJZ’s Nicolai Fuglsig.

In “Bullet,” a single bullet flies through the opening of a horizontal bottle, exploding out the back to demonstrate “precision is power,” according to the James Spader voiceover. “Introducing the Acura TL, the most powerful Acura ever built.” The Acura emerges behind the shattered glass on a moody runway at night, darting in and out of the light.

In “Dive,” a man descends in a slow-motion balletic dive and morphs into the car when he hits the water to show “grace is power.”

In a third spot called “Fist,” a karate punch destroys a board to show “strength is power.”

All three spots use a card at the end with the Acura tag, “Advance.” Two other commercials are on tap.

A print ad demonstrating “control” shows a TL on a golf course wearing “spiked” shoe tires and leaving tracks as if the car had walked the course.

Rossick said the media targets the 35-45 demographic with buys during college football — the model is the official sponsor of Pac 10 games — Monday Night Football, ESPN’s SportsCenter, The Daily Show and The History Channel, as well as the spot market. Based on a successful pilot program last year, live venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York and the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia will use big screens inside the arenas to show the real-time traffic conditions outside via a TL’s navigational component.

Several Internet home page takeovers will forge new ground, according the agency. This Wednesday, TL advertising will take over the Yahoo! home page navigation pane. The box unit ad will expand to a TL microsite without leaving the home page. The agency also said it would advertise on and run banners on ESPN’s iPhone site. Exploiting Sports Illustrated‘s “power” rankings, the TL will sponsor a season-long ownership platform.

AHM spent $230 million advertising the Acura division in 2007, $125 million through June 2008 and $30 million on the TL alone last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Sales of the TL are down 20 percent on the year to 33,000 units through August, per Car Concepts. The entire division is down 13 percent over the same period.

Rossick predicted that the TL would do well despite it being “a tough environment to launch a car.” AHM has set a sales goal of 70,000 units for the model year. The TL was introduced five years ago, she said, and “the most important part of the campaign is to show that it is all new and redesigned and to re-create the enthusiasm and aspiration for the car.”