Ad of the Day: Honda’s ‘Dreamer’ Is an Acid-Level Romp Inside an Auto Designer’s Mind

RPA imagines the fruit of elaborate dreamscapes

A Honda designer blows his own mind in this visually rich ad for the 2016 Civic.

As our hero brainstorms some concepts, the vehicle suddenly bursts through the back of his head, exiting via thick bank-vault doors, with rays of light signifying the power of inspiration.

This dude's the ultimate gear-head! 

An amazing journey follows. With Empire of the Sun's techno-bouncy "Walking on a Dream" as the soundtrack, the car speeds along dazzlingly realized computer-generated landscapes. Sun-splashed waterfalls and rainbow slides spring up in and around the designer's workspace.

Just like your drive to the office every single day, right? So, why did the agency take such an unusual creative approach?

"The spot is a fantastical, surreal representation of the Honda ideation process," RPA executive creative director Jason Sperling tells Adweek. "We wanted to showcase the Civic's beautiful design and performance, but do it through the prism of the brand. The spot is a great marriage of the way Honda thinks and the byproduct of their thinking." 

After the client approved the concept and the work began, "we all had to use our imaginations—for a very long time," Sperling says. "For months, all we had to go on was reference material and wireframes. As you might expect, the postproduction process was incredibly intensive on this project. Our amazing partner Roof had to create a world from scratch, all in CGI."

Ultimately, the minute-long spot took five months to finish. On the one hand, it's an impressive animated treat, a novel approach for the category from a nameplate that's become known for taking less-traveled marketing roads. (Its recent three-tiered interactive spot from RPA, focused on increasingly extravagant dates, is also a nod in that direction.)

That said, "The Dreamer" might be a tad busy for its own good. The ad offers an awful lot to process on one or even multiple viewings, and paying attention to the fast-shifting details is kind of a headache (an affliction the print ad below inadvertently illustrates all too well). 

CREDITS

Client: American Honda Motor Co.

Agency: RPA


EVP, CCO: Joe Baratelli

SVP, ECD: Jason Sperling

Creative Director/Art: Rahul Panchal

ACD/Art: Marcella Coad

ACD/Copy: Paul Fung

SVP, Chief Production Officer: Gary Paticoff

VP, Executive Producer: Isadora Chesler

Sr. Producer: Eva Ellis

Producer: Ryan Radley

VP, Director of Business Affairs: Maria Del Homme

EVP, Management Account Director: Brett Bender

VP, Group Account Director: Adam Blankenship

Management Supervisor: Rose McRitchie

Account Supervisor: Patty Mira

Account Supervisor: Eliza Wan

Account Executive: Donny Menjivar

Account Executive: Chloe Seitz

Sr. VP, Group Strategic Planning Director: Christian Cocker

Associate Director, Strategic Planning: Nargis Pirani

Associate Strategic Planning Director: Rich Bina

Sr. Strategic Planner: Elissa Murch

Production Company: Roof Studio

Directors: Guto Terni, Sam Mason and Vinicius Costa

Executive Producer: Crystal Campbell


Producer: Ryan Mack


Director of Photography: Bill Pope

Technical Lead Director: Aaron Baker


Design: Fred Palacio, Eric Pautz, Guto Terni, Vinicius Costa and Sam Mason

Color Correction: Seth Ricart, RCO


Additional Color Correction: Tim Masik, CO3

Music:

Track: "Walking on a Dream"


Artist: Empire of the Sun


Music Supervision: Squeak E. Clean Productions, Inc.

Sound Design: Squeak E. Clean Productions, Inc.

Mix: Lime Studios


Engineer: Dave Wagg

Producer: Susie Boyajan

—Print

Agency: RPA

EVP, CCO: Joe Baratelli

SVP, ECD: Jason Sperling

ACD: Marcella Coad

ACD: Paul Fung

Photographer: Jen Campbell