Honda Pushes Value Message

Honda is trying a new tactic with its latest batch of TV spots. Rather than direct users to sites it controls to push its long-term value message, the automaker is telling them to visit auto review site
Honda hopes the tactic will lend credibility to its “Honda Values” campaign claims that its cars have a lower cost of ownership when factors like insurance, fuel and maintenance costs are taken into account. The TV spots, which began running today, are an attempt by the automaker to fend off discount offers by competitors.
“It was an opportunity to recognize the intelligence of car shoppers and the way they shop and the process they were going through,” said Gregory Smith, svp, account director at RPA, Honda’s ad agency. “It seems a little more intelligent and transparent than the typical call to action.”
In a spot called “Question,” a Honda Pilot is shown with a voiceover asking why it has a low cost of ownership. The narration then recounts the sport utility vehicle’s fuel efficiency and infrequent need for maintenance. It encourages users to go to for an “independent report on the true cost to own a Pilot.” The spots are running in prime time on broadcast TV on shows like Dancing with the Stars, Ugly Betty, CSI and Amazing Race.
RPA brokered a deal with Edmunds to create a Honda-branded True Cost to Own section. It includes Edmunds editorial reviews, which typically show Honda cars outperforming rivals. Honda’s only control over the content was in defining which rival models its cars are compared to. Edmunds labels the placement as “sponsored content.”
“We’ve seen the growth of the Honda consumers going online in waves, said Christan Miller, manager of Honda regional marketing. “The philosophy was to go to the spot where consumers are at.”
Honda has three other spots, one promoting the Accord, another the Odyssey and the last features both.
The campaign is the latest attempt by Honda to change up its TV-Web integration. Past efforts have directed users to search “Honda” on Yahoo. For this push, the client solicited ideas from various media sites on how they could integrate the long-term value message into their site experiences. Edmunds was chosen because it already had a true cost of ownership feature on the site. It is also ranked as the most visited third-party car comparison site.
“A lot of consumers rely on it do their research,” said Miller. “If we were to place this info on our Web site, it could be viewed as being manipulated or being slanted to our view.”
Honda is not the only brand to rethink its reliance driving consumers to branded sites. Several movies have used their MySpace pages in TV spots and VitaminWater’s NCAA men’s basketball campaign drove users to its Facebook page.