Honda, VW Spots Put Safety First

Taking strategy from Volvo’s playbook, both Honda and Volkswagen break spots mid-month that emphasize new safety innovations. The efforts dedicate more media dollars to safety as a way to claim good corporate citizenship.

Two 30-second Honda spots continuing the 2004 “Safety for Everyone” campaign eschew crash test-center sterility in favor of the lush cinematic look of Danish director Henrik Hansen to “create an emotional connection to the subject,” said Joe Baratelli, cd at independent RPA, Santa Monica, Calif.

“Cages” shows various wildlife resting in Civic A.C.E. (Advanced Compatibility Engineering) body frames in natural settings and ends with an avian-eyed girl. (The voiceover by new spokesman, actor Kevin Spacey, says: “Ingeniously designed to protect the things that most need protecting.”) “Safer Roads” uses driver POV shots of a city where busses, buildings and trees are wrapped in padding.

“It’s always part of Honda’s interest … bringing safety to the forefront is the right thing to do,” said Rob Alen, manager of corporate advertising at Honda, Torrance, Calif.

Volkswagen’s 60-second spot, “Thank You Very Much,” shows comfort and safety features and a row of crash dummies blissfully awaiting rough rides. The voiceover is “120 not-so-standard features. One all-new German-engineered Passat.”

Neither VW nor Honda would disclose spending on safety spots, but Alen said Honda is spending more this year on the subject.