No. Cal. Honda Dealers Set Finals

LOS ANGELES The newly formed Northern California Honda Dealers Association will hear final presentations Sept. 15 to select an agency to handle its account, according to Dennis Boyle, the group’s president. Sources estimated annual billings at $20 million.

Boyle confirmed that the four independent California shops in contention are: Open Minds, Irvine, a subsidiary of RPA, Honda’s national and regional agency, which withdrew from the ongoing Southern California Honda review in order to concentrate on the northern contest [Adweek Online, August 15]; J. Stokes & Associates, Walnut Creek; and Pickett Advertising and Maiden Lane, both in San Francisco.

“We’d like to fill in the gaps in the national and regional marketing,” said Boyle, owner of Honda dealerships in San Leandro and Vacaville, Calif., and in Colorado, where another dealer association review is under way. “For instance, during the Fourth of July, there was no regional advertising and national was light, whereas Toyota was all over the place.”

Boyle said the association was formed July 14 and officers chosen from 10 different Northern California areas stretching from Fresno to the Oregon border, representing some 60 dealerships that accounted for sales of about 85,000 Honda units in 2005.

The 10 members of the board will choose the agency. Boyle said he hopes the board comes to a decision on Sept. 15.

Boyle said the board wants the new advertising to “look and feel different. [RPA’s] regional marketing looks like national. It’s a laid-back and understated approach. We’re looking for a much stronger retail message, something more exciting.”

“The ultimate goal is to sell more Hondas,” Boyle said, “both in volume and share of market.” He said the board has decided to reevaluate the efficacy of the program after two years.

Boyle said that the association has structured its financing much as in Southern California, with dealers contributing dollars per vehicle sold. He said parent company American Honda Motors, Torrance, Calif., has agreed to conditional incremental spending during three specified times of the year in support of the dealer efforts.