Horizon Adds Regional Honda

LOS ANGELES Horizon Media here has won media buying and planning duties for the newly established regional business of the Southern California Honda Dealers Association, according to the agency.

Ad spending next year could top $50 million, sources said.

Honda marks the initial win in the car category for the media agency, which is best known for high-profile entertainment clients such as NBC Universal.

“I made it a priority to win automotive business,” said Zach Rosenberg, Western region executive vice president and general manager. “We know entertainment very well, no one does it better. But this is our first foray in a category also endemic to this market. We vied for it based on our confidence in our ability to drive traffic and sales for our current clients.”

Earlier in the year, independent Secret Weapon Marketing, Santa Monica, Calif., won a review of what was then thought to be both the creative and media portion of the business [Adweek Online, Sept. 18].

In June, Secret Weapon’s largest client, Jack in the Box restaurants, hired Horizon to expand its media schedule to a national cable buy. Advertising is expected to begin in early 2007.

There was no media incumbent. The assignment is the result of a move earlier in the year by the dealers to begin their own advertising, in addition to Honda’s national program for tier-two ads created by independent lead shop RPA of Santa Monica. Funding for the media buys would come out of a dealer association ad fee assessed on a per vehicle basis, according to sources.

Honda sales were up 5 percent to 1.2 million units through November, according to Car Concepts, Thousand Oaks, Calif. AHM’s Acura was down 5 percent to 182,000 units during the same period.