Ad of the Day: Acura

Mullen's 'Made for mankind' celebrates a brand in harmony with humanity

Epic yet quiet, Mullen's first commercial for Acura, touting the 2014 MDX, feels unusual for a car ad.

Over sparse piano notes and a series of slow-motion images, a female voice talks slowly about how "man is a determined creature" who has an "inherent calling to seek … push … improve … transcend." The images include a man climbing a fir tree, a woman dancing and an astronaut floating in space.

Not until 37 seconds into the 60-second ad does a car appear, although it then remains on screen until the end, when the voiceover veers into more typical car fare: "If your quest is to build the world's smartest luxury SUV for mankind, you must hold yourself to the standard of mankind." The only screen copy appears in the final seconds: "The extremely new 2014 MDX. Made for mankind."

Directed by Epoch Films' Martin de Thurah, the ad was shot in the Los Angeles area and stems from a video that Mullen presented in its successful pitch for Honda's luxury brand, said agency executive creative director Peter Rosch.

The launch spot for the new campaign, which also includes print, outdoor and digital ads, succeeds in transcending typical car advertising—to a point. Then it shifts into glossy-car-and-big-statement mode. In fact, the tagline is almost but not quite as grandiose as Cadillac's "The standard of the world."

That divide between image and car is less evident in the initial print and outdoor ads, simply because shots of people and the car appear side by side. Some pairings represent literal comparisons (a man's hazel eye and a headlight), while others are more stylistic (a woman's raven hair and a red taillight). Either way, they outstrip the TV ad to illustrate Acura's internal product development mantra of "managing synergies."

As Gary Robinson, Acura's manager of national advertising and brand, said, in introducing the tagline: "It's intended to evoke that we have built a luxury car with you in mind [and] that this is a vehicle that is designed thinking about the customer, not designed trying to make the customer shape themselves to the car."

"Made for mankind" represents one of Acura's biggest campaigns ever, both in terms of the number of TV ads (five are coming in all) and media spending. Anderson declined to reveal the media budget but said it was more than double what Acura spent on its RDX campaign last year, which Nielsen estimated at $46 million. The ads will run through the end of the year.

CREDITS

Client: Acura

Spot: "Human Race"

Agency: Mullen, Boston and Los Angeles

Chief Creative Officer: Mark Wenneker

Executive Creative Directors: Peter Rosch, Tim Vaccarino

Associate Creative Director: Adam Calvert

Senior Art Director: Scott Slagsvol

Senior Copywriter: Andrea Mileskiewicz

Executive Director of Integrated Production: Liza Near

Executive Producer: Zeke Bowman

Producer: Trish Dowley

Account Service: Jeff Prince, Alison Kaplan

Production Company: Epoch Films

Director: Martin De Thurah

Executive Producer: Melissa Culligan

Producer: Karen O'Brien

DP: Kasper Tuxen

Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors

Editor: Mikkel Nielsen

Assistant Editor: Dustin Laforce

Producer: Mike Goble

Executive Producer: Carol Lynn Weaver

Color Correct: Company 3

Colorist: Tim Masick

VFX: Brickyard VFX

Lead VFX Artist: Geoff McAuliffe

VFX Artists: Mandy Sorenson, Patrick Poulatain, Andy Diefenbach

On-Set VFX Supervisor: Kathy Siegel

CG Artists: David Blumenfeld, Dan Gutierrez

Motion Graphics: Sean McLean

Executive Producer: Kirsten Andersen

Producers: Linda Jackson, Carla Attanasio

Audio Post: Lime Studios

Sound Design/Mixer: Dave Wagg, Sam Casas

Original Music: Ski Team