Honda Search Yields 2 Winners

LOS ANGELES – American Honda Motor Co. has retained Rogers & Associates and The Hawthorn Group to handle public relations and public affairs activities, after a nationwide search.
The two agencies will work together as a “single, seamless unit,” according to executives with the Torrance, Calif.-based company. The team bested five undisclosed contenders in a six-week agency search managed by strategic communications consultant Jerry Swerling of Swerling & Associates in Marina del Rey, Calif.
Honda launched the nationwide search for a public relations agency last month when its previous shop, St. Louis-based Fleishman Hillard, began working for the American Automobile Manufacturers Association. Honda officials considers the AAMA, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group representing the Big Three domestic automakers, to be a competitor.
Los Angeles-based Rogers & Associates is among the largest independent public relations firms headquartered on the West Coast. The Hawthorn Group is an Alexandria, Va.-based international public affairs and political communications company, ranked among the top 12 firms in the Washington, D.C., market.
“The team of Rogers & Associates and The Hawthorn Group demonstrated that they had a very good sense of Honda and our strategic thinking,” said Kurt Antonius, Honda’s senior manager, corporate public relations. “They showed us creative scenarios for launching products and solutions to hypothetical crises. They also had good track records.”
Antonius declined to name the other contenders, but said Honda was “leaning toward medium-sized, independent agencies.”
The two public relations agencies will be jointly responsible for strategic communications, product marketing public relations, public affairs and issues management for American Honda and Honda North America.