Ad of the Day: Honda Puts Its History on Paper in This Amazing 2-Minute PES Animation

RPA goes back to basics

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Those who were disappointed that animator PES wasn't hired for this Ikea spot will rejoice today upon seeing the Oscar nominee's latest brand work—a remarkable two-minute Honda spot from RPA that tells Honda's entire history though an intricate paper-flipping journey.

The spot, titled "Paper," which took months to make, broke Sunday during CBS's NFL games. It features thousands of hand-drawn illustrations from various artists—filmed by stop-motion wizard PES—that show Honda's mobility products through the years. It opens with founder Soichiro Honda's use of a radio generator to power his wife's bicycle, and continues through the company's development of motorcycles, outboard motors, CVCC vehicles, automobiles, race cars, robotics and more.

The film, while devised in CGI, was shot practically, with a few scenes stitched together.

Honda has told its history many times before—notably in spots out of Wieden + Kennedy London like 2013's "Hands" and, going back a decade, "Impossible Dream." Much like the "Hands" spot, "Paper" aims to embody—rather than just tell—the Honda brand promise, by being as impeccably engineered as the products themselves.

"The goal is for the marketing itself to become a demonstration of Honda thinking and all the people that touch our wide range of products along the way," said Tom Peyton, assistant vice president of marketing for American Honda Motor Co. "This commercial stands for the courage and conviction to imagine and make dreams a reality and speaks to Honda's innovative nature and respect for personal achievement and contributions."

Conceptually, "Paper" is about as stripped down as you can get—every complex vehicle, after all, starts with a few sketches on paper. And the details pay off the lofty concept, as we move from the sepia-toned early scenes to modern graph paper by the end.

The tagline is, ""You never know where a dream will lead you."

The spot will get further full two-minute airings on network shows including Dancing with the Stars, Rosewood, Minority Report and Blue Bloods, and on ESPN next weekend during Saturday College Football. A 60-second version will air throughout October on NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC. It's also on Facebook and YouTube.

Check out the behind-the-scenes video below, including commentary from PES himself.

Client: American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Title: "Paper" :117
First Air: 9/20/15


Agency: RPA
EVP, CCO: Joe Baratelli
SVP, ECD: Jason Sperling
VP, CD/Art Director: Chuck Blackwell
VP, CD/Copywriter: Ken Pappanduros
Senior Copywriter: Chris Bradford
Art Director: Laura Crigler
Copywriter: Josh Hepburn
SVP, Chief Production Officer: Gary Paticoff
VP, Executive Producer: Isadora Chesler
Producer: Matt Magsaysay

SVP, Group Strategic Planning Director: Christian Cocker
VP, Director of Business Affairs: Maria Del Homme

EVP, Management Account Director: Brett Bender
VP, Group Account Directors: Adam Blankenship & Jeff Moohr
Management Supervisor: Rose McRitchie
Account Executives: Susan Kim & Paul Sulzer
Product Information Manager: Marco Fantone

Production Company: Reset Content
Director: PES 
Managing Director: Dave Morrison 
Executive Producers: Jen Beitler & Jeff McDougall 
Head of Production: Amanda Clune 
Producer: Stan Sawicki 
DP: Eric Adkins 
Production Supervisor: Mario D'Amici 
Production Designer: John Joyce 
Motion Control Operator: Mark Eifert 
Motion Control Assistant: Calvin Frederick 
Animation Supervisor: Eileen Kohlhepp 
Animators: Amy Adamy, Sihanouk Mariona, David Braun, Julian Petschek, Javan Ivey, Jen Prokopowicz, Brandon Lake, Ranko Tadic & Quique Rivera
Illustrators: Jerrod McIlvain, Nicole Cardiff, Vincent Lucido, Arwen King, Meghan Boehman, Monica Magana, Kei Chong, Trevor Brown & Alex Theodoropulos
Set Dresser/Painter: Veronica Hwang
Illustration Coordinator: Evan Koehne
Art Department: Nate Theis, Ellen Ridgeway, Melissa Quezada

Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Stewart Reeves
EP: Angela Dorian
Producer: Leah Carnahan-Dogruer
Assistant Editor: Jasmina Zaharieva

VFX & Finishing: A52
VFX Supervisor & Lead Flame: Andy Rafael Barrios  
CG Supervisor: Kirk Shintani  
EP: Patrick Nugent 
Producer: Lusia Boryczko 
Head of Production: Kim Christensen 
Executive Producer: Patrick Nugent 
2D VFX Artists: Michael Plescia, Enid Dalkoff, Chris Moore, Cam Coombs, Michael Vagilenty
CG Artists: Aaron Baker, Mike Bettinardi, Michael Cardenas, Jon Belcome, Joe Chiechi
Pre-Viz: Ranko Tadic, Ingolfur Guomundsson, Benito Vargas
Colorist: Tommy Hooper
Online Editor: Dan Ellis
Color/Online Assist: Gabe Sanchez, Chris Riley, Erik Rojas
Roto Artists: Cathy Shaw, Robert Shaw, Tiffany Germann

Sound Design: Factory UK – Sound Design Studios
Sound Designer: Phil Bolland
Head of Production: Lou Allen

Mix: Lime Studios
Re-Recording Mixer: Dave Wagg
Assistant Re-Recording Mixer: Adam Primack
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan


VP, Creative Social Media Director: J Barbush
VP, CD/Art Director: Chuck Blackwell
VP, CD/Copywriter: Ken Pappanduros
Senior Copywriter: Chris Bradford
Art Director: Laura Crigler
Copywriter: Josh Hepburn
Producer: Matt Magsaysay
Editor: A'sia Horne-Smith

EVP, Management Account Director: Brett Bender
VP, Group Account Director: Adam Blankenship
Account Supervisor: Renee Egizi-Finger
Account Executive: Kaelin McGill

VP, Associate Director, Digital Marketing: Aaron Dodez
Supervisor, Digital Content Strategy: Mike Dossett
Sr. Specialists, Digital Content Strategy: Tyler Sweeney & Hartman Wong
Associate Digital Producer: Connor Gomez
Program Manager: Melissa Heitman

—Behind The Scenes

Senior Copywriter: Chris Bradford
Art Director: Laura Crigler
Copywriter: Josh Hepburn
Producer: Matt Magsaysay
Associate Digital Producer: Connor Gomez

VP, Group Account Director: Adam Blankenship
Management Supervisor: Rose McRitchie
Account Executive: Susan Kim

Post Production: Bo's House of Visual Arts @ RPA
Post Producer: Eddie Granado
Editor: Wendy Sandoval
Lead Cameraman: Zach Grant 
Cameraman/pick up shots: Mark Tripp
Graphics: Michael Kelley
Color: Augie Arredondo

Final Mix/Audio: Lime Studios
Mixer: Mark Meyuhas


Video Technology: WIREWAX
Business Development & Creative Services: Bea DiCarlo
EVP, CCO: Joe Baratelli
SVP, ECD: Jason Sperling 
VP, Digital Design Director: Michael Takeshita 
VP, CD/Art Director: Chuck Blackwell 
VP, CD/Copywriter: Ken Pappanduros 
Art Director: Jesse Echon 
Copywriter: Michael Chen 
VP, Director of Digital Production: Dave Brezinski 
Executive Digital Producer: Linda Kim 
Associate Digital Producer: Connor Gomez 

EVP, Management Account Director: Brett Bender 
VP, Group Account Director: Adam Blankenship 
Management Supervisor: Rose McRitchie 
Account Executive: Susan Kim 
Program Manager: Melissa Heitman

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.