Honda Civic Shows Off Its ‘Groovy’ Side

American Honda Motors has gone “groovy” in the new “Musical Road” spot for Civic.

Taking a documentary-style approach, with engineers seen measuring rumble strips with calipers, the ad via independent RPA, Santa Monica, Calif., shows how Honda took over Avenue K near the Mojave Desert in Lancaster, Calif., and tuned it up.

In the spot, grooved surfaces of various heights cause the Civic to strike different notes while traveling on the road. The result: the car “plays” a tune similar to the finale of the William Tell Overture.

RPA considers the spot an example of “experiential” marketing. The “musical road” was left in place for 18 days until neighborhood complaints about hearing the same tune led to repaving. In the interim, hundreds of drivers posted online videos about the road.

Lance Acord of Park Pictures here directed the spots. Acord’s team was instrumental in determining how to achieve the musical effect. “We figured it out,” said Acord. “The production designer I hired, K.K. Barrett, has a musical background. We knew we could get tones, but weren’t sure we could get an entire octave.”

Acord said the job was bid without a guarantee of song. “We were unsure going in of the complexity of the song we could play. But we chose the one that was so rhythmically distinctive you could get it if one of the notes were sharp or flat,” he said.

The spot, viral marketing and a site with Webisodes will run through the model year.

RPA’s David Smith, evp, ecd, worked with Joe Baratelli and Pat Mendelson, senior vice presidents and creative directors, senior copywriter Adam Lowrey and art director Laura Hauseman on the creative.

Benzo Theodore, known for his Ray-Ban viral videos for Omnicom’s Cutwater, directed the five Webisodes.

Civic sales are up 12 percent on the year to 286,000 units through September, according to Car Concepts.