RPA Intros Acura RDX

LOS ANGELES Acura’s launch this week of its RDX small CUV (crossover utility vehicle) through independent RPA will quickly become “the most integrated campaign” in the brand’s history, according to Susie Rossick, the client’s national advertising manager.

The print component was conceived as the first broad domestic use of “image tagging,” she said: Prospects will be sent viral messages instructing them to snap camera-phone pictures of magazine executions and upload them to an Acura site. Image recognition software enters readers into contests, and sends them e-vites for parties and technology events, as well as RDX information.

A theatrical spot targeting affluent, urban males breaks today. Fifteen- and 30-second commercials stressing the advanced engineering and other features of the RDX debut on national cable and in spot markets later this week.

Mark Erwin and Pat Mendelson, senior vice presidents and creative directors at Santa Monica, Calif.-based RPA, described the campaign as “techno-charged.” Said Erwin, “The strategy is to show the RDX as the ultimate object of high-tech advanced living, like an iPod on wheels.”

Rossick said an alliance with ABC and Wired magazine would take the RDX on a six-city “Techno-Charged” tour at locations such as the Viceroy hotel in Santa Monica, the ABC Entertainment Center in New York and ESPN in Washington, D.C., where the RDX will be the featured attraction in a high-tech gadget exposition. A Gen Art sponsorship will take the RDX to movie premieres and fashion shows, Mendelson added.

Directed by music video artist Mark Romanek, TV spots breaking Thursday use a computer-generated version of the RDX constructed by Digital Domain. Art director Brandon Levin, copywriter Daniel Elmslie and producer Shelley Eisner contributed to the effort.

In “TechnoTraction,” the RDX defies gravity: The camera tracks impossible spinning and upside-down shots as the RDX traverses a futuristic 360-degree indoor space. “It connects with you—and the road,” a voiceover says.

In “TurboTravel,” the RDX glows, disappears, then reappears in a different location, as if it is too fast to spot. The acronym SHAWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive) is introduced.

In “TechnoWorship,” laptop computers bow in obeisance to the RDX as a celestial choir sings. “Praised by man and machine,” the voiceover says.

“It’s all indoors,” said Mendelson. “We’re talking to urban dwellers who live there and dream of the city. They used to have fantasies of going outdoors. They’re not your typical hiker and climber. They love the technology in the vehicle.”

Rossick declined to state the launch budget. Honda’s Acura division spent $250 million on U.S. ads in 2005 and $110 million through May 2006, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Acura sales are down 8 percent through June, with 96,000 vehicles sold, per Car Concepts, Thousand Oaks, Calif.